CP Holiday Train stopping in Pitt Meadows

Jim Cuddy and Tracey Brown performing on train, a fundraiser for local food banks.

The Holiday Train will stop in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows on Dec. 17.

The Holiday Train will stop in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows on Dec. 17.

The CP Holiday Train will make it’s first-ever stop in Pitt Meadows this December, with the former Blue Rodeo front man putting on a Christmas concert.

Jim Cuddy is riding the rails with CP this year, offering free concerts from the rolling boxcar stage. Also performing locally this year is Tracey Brown – an inductee into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

The Holiday Train will stop at the Harris Road crossing on the night of Dec. 17 at 8:45 p.m. The boxcars will open on both sides, and a holiday street party will begin at 9 p.m.

Harris Road will be closed to traffic during the event.

The concerts are free, but those attending are asked to bring a non-perishable donation for the Friends in Need Food Bank, or a cash donation.

“It is a major, major fundraiser and foodraiser,” Mike LoVecchio, CP’s director of government affairs, said as he announced the stop at Pitt Meadows city hall on Tuesday night. “We’re thrilled to be able to bring the holiday train to Pitt Meadows.”

Billed as “North America’s longest rolling food bank fundraiser, the Holiday Train started in 1999, and has generated $9.5 million in cash donations and 3.3 million pounds of food donations in communities along the tracks.

The Holiday Train has made Maple Ridge a regular stop, and it will be in Haney that same night at 7:30 p.m., so local people could easily see the show twice. It will continue on to Port Moody and Port Coquitlam for its last shows of the season on Dec. 18.

Mary Robson, executive director of the Friends in Need Food Bank, noted that the Holiday Train provides the food bank with its single biggest cash fundraiser of the year.

Last year at the Haney stop, CP gave the local charity a cheque for $7,000, and there were further cash donations of $1,700 from local people at the event that night.

Local firefighters also use the occasion to kick off their shake-a-boot event, during which they collect donations for Christmas charities at local grocery stores and other high-traffic locations. Last year, they gave Friends in Need approximately $9,000 in donations.

In addition to the cash, she estimates the food bank takes in 1,000 pounds of food that night.

With two stops this year, she anticipates local charities will be well stocked this holiday season.

Robson also appreciates that the food bank’s cause is highlighted in such a high-profile way.

“To raise public awareness is huge.”

LoVecchio gave credit for the Pitt appearance to outgoing mayor Deb Walters, who asked CP to add the stop in recognition of the community’s 100th anniversary this year.