Holiday Train celebrates 10th year in operation

ROUSES POINT Trains come and go along the railroad tracks in the village of Rouses Point on a daily basis, but theres only one time of year when a train like this can be seen. The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train will be making its way across the Northeast next week, with its first stop being at the Amtrak station on Pratt Street Wednesday, Nov. 26. The Holiday Train will celebrate its 10th anniversary of collecting food and money for local food banks and raising awareness in the fight against hunger. Michael LoVecchio, a representative for Canadian Pacific, said the Holiday Train program has helped raise more than $3.56 million and collect 1.8 million pounds of food since its inception in 1999. This anniversary, we think, will mark quite a terrific milestone, said LoVecchio. Weve helped raise a significant amount of money over the years and one of the hallmarks of the season in many communities has become the arrival of the Holiday Train. Each year, the process is the same, said LoVecchio. The Holiday Train, decorated in lights from end to end, stops at each location on its route and opens its box car stage for performances by various well-known recording artists. According to LoVecchio, this years Holiday Train will feature performances from Shaun Verreault, best known as the lead vocalist and guitarist for the Canadian band Wide Mouth Mason, and Melanie Doane, an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and singer, also from Canada. In addition to the performances, theres usually time for pictures with the artists and other special guests, said LoVecchio. Santas been known to make an appearance, he said. During each stop the Holiday Train makes, the community is encouraged to bring donations for their local food shelf. The donations collected and a check from Canadian Pacific are then presented to the organization prior to the performances. The Rouses Point stop will benefit the food shelf at St. Patricks Church on Lake Street, as it has for the last five years, said LoVecchio. The churchs pastor, the Rev. Clyde A. Lewis, said the annual donation the church receives, which has increased in recent years from $500 to $1,000, has been a great help to the food shelf. This money helps us help people in need, said Lewis. We give out food once a week and help people who come to our door in need of things like gas money or help paying their rent, no matter who they are or what their religion. Were here to give help to people having difficulties and the Holiday Train helps us do that. Theyve given a lot of money in their 10 years of existence, added Lewis. They do a great job and they ought to be commended. The Holiday Train will stop first in Rouses Point next Wednesday at approximately 11 p.m. From there, the train will continue on to stops in Pennsylvania and southern New York before returning to the North Country Sunday, Nov. 30. On that day, the train will make stops in Saratoga Springs, Fort Edward, Whitehall, Ticonderoga and Port Henry before making its last stop at the Amtrak station in Plattsburgh at approximately 10 p.m. There, donations collected will benefit the Joint Council for Economic Opportunities of Clinton and Franklin Counties, which operates outreach centers throughout the North Country. In addition to the train visiting the Northeast, Canadian Pacific will also have Holiday Trains visiting the Midwest and more than 70 cities across Canada through mid-December. For more information about the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train, including a detailed listing of its route and performers, visit www.cpr.ca and click on the link for the Holiday Train.

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