Holiday Train marks 20 years of making memories this season

CP Holiday Train
Posted on: November 19, 2018

Stacey Roy

Country music singer, Kelly Preston and Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) invites the communities of Merrickville, Smiths Falls and Perth to join them for a Christmas tradition of harmony and helping others Nov. 28 when the CP Holiday Train pulls into our communities this anniversary year.

This annual holiday event will be moving into our region with their first stop in Merrickville Nov. 28 at 4:45 p.m. (103 East Broadway and County Road 2). The show wraps up at 5:30 p.m. and will be off to Smiths Falls for the 6:30 p.m. start time (63 Victoria Street). The final stop will be in Perth that evening with an 8 p.m. start time at the end of Harriott Street (CP rail yard). In total there are 87 shows in three-and-a-half weeks. This gruelling schedule is easily tempered for artists like Prescott thanks to the audience’s energy and appreciation.

“I really don’t know what I’d do without the train”, Prescott said during a phone interview.

The country music singer and Clayton, Ontario native has been performing on the train since she was a teenager and before that watched her parents perform. She will be joined on stage this year by country music legend Terri Clark and Canadian fiddling, singer songwriter Sierra Noble.

“It’s going to be girl power”, Prescott said.

The half-hour musical line up changes every year, but audiences can expect a good mix of holiday favourites and possibly a new Christmas song or two. This year Prescott and Clark teamed up to record a new song entitled Sister Christmas. This track will be on the CP Holiday Train 20th anniversary CD (available online only through Spotify and iTunes) along with 19 other songs from 19 different artists who have participated in the event throughout its history. All funds raised from CD sales goes directly to food banks.

Prescott is excited to return to the train and make more holiday memories. She recalls singing Silent Night one year when an audience member got their attention and asked to sign the entire song for the crowd. Having that person on stage making her performance accessible to even more people “was really special”, Prescott said.

Over the years, Prescott’s involvement with the CP Holiday Train experience has grown. For some time her production company, Rip Roar Music, has been managing the musical line-up and stage considerations for the two country-wide tour.

Giving back

“This has become not just a tradition for my family, but for so many families they need this”, Prescott said.

For the last two decades the Holiday Train has raised more than $14.5 million (CDN) and gathered 4.3 million pounds of food for food banks in Canada and the United States. Each train stop represents a significant donation to that community’s local food bank with a monetary donation from CPR and the public’s non-perishable donations. Natalia Soteroff, manager of the Smiths Falls Community Food Bank doesn’t know how they would get through the winter months without the support of the Holiday Train. Last year, this one-night event brought in over 2,000 pounds of food.

“It’s absolutely incredible,” Soteroff added. “It definitely stocks our shelves”.

The corporate donation goes to purchasing heart-healthy items such as beef, fresh produce, eggs and milk that the food bank clients receive. Soteroff said this event is a wonderful opportunity for the public to bring in holiday items such as cranberry sauce, gravy and other things needed for a Christmas dinner. Please come out this Nov. 28 and bring your food bank donation.