COTTAGE GROVE, Minnesota — The Canadian Pacific (CP) Holiday Train is back for the first time in three years.
The holiday tradition held virtual concerts in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic.
On Monday, the train made stops in Cottage Grove and Union Depot in St. Paul.
"I'm super excited," said Isaac Baldeshwiler, 11, while waiting for the train to arrive in Cottage Grove.
Baldeshwiler came with his family from River Falls, Wisconsin to see the return of the CP Holiday Train.
"It's super cool. It's longer than last time I was here," he said.
While Baldeshwiler has seen the train before, it was a new experience for many in the crowd.
The pop-up concerts spread awareness on food insecurity by serving as a fundraiser for local food banks. The shows are free to attend but guests are encouraged to bring a cash or non-perishable food donation. Since 1999, the program has raised more than $21 million and collected five million pounds of food for community food banks across North America.
In Cottage Grove, money and food donations will benefit Friends in Need Food Shelf in St. Paul Park.
Executive Director Michelle Rageth said this is the food shelf's largest fundraiser. It comes during a year when the need is up 43%.
"Fortunately, people have been coming out and bringing donations in to us," said Kathy Cotto with Woodbury High School's Air Force Junior ROTC.
After stopping in Cottage Grove, the Holiday Train arrived at Union Depot in St. Paul.
"This is the first time I came here to watch this, to show this to my kids how beautiful it is," said Nikhil Gaikwad of Woodbury.
The Holiday Train launched its 2022 tour on Nov. 23. The CP Holiday Train program has two trains, one that travels exclusively in Canada and another that makes stops in both Canada and the U.S.
Tuesday, the train will be stopping in Golden Valley, St. Louis Park and Minneapolis. It will be in Minnesota through December 16.
You can see the full schedule, here.
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