RACINE COUNTY — The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train is coming to town, and it is set to make two Racine County stops this year instead of one.
The first will be at the Sturtevant Amtrak Depot, 9900 E. Exploration Court, a customary stop on the festive route. That’s scheduled for 6:50 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 2. The new stop will be at The Depot Tavern, 11402 Highway G, in Caledonia, on the same day at 8 p.m.
The Depot Tavern and Parker Power Equipment will also host a community fundraising party for the Racine County Food Bank beginning at 4 p.m. Party-goers are asked to bring nonperishable food and cash donations for the food bank.
Highway G will be closed from highways H to V from 6 to 10 p.m. Three shuttle buses will be available for transporting party-goers from these locations:
- Swan’s Pumpkin Farm, 5930 Highway H, beginning at 5 p.m.
- Phantom Fireworks, 2086 27th St. (west Frontage Road and Highway G), beginning at 5 p.m.
- St. Louis Church, 13207 Highway G, beginning at 6 p.m.
The cost is $5 to ride the shuttle. There is no charge for ages 15 and younger. The last shuttle to The Depot departs the shuttle parking lots at 7 p.m.
The party will feature music by Racine Unified choirs and appearances by Racine County Fair Little Queen and King and Little Miss Wisconsin, snow princesses, Santa Claus and his Christmas elf, and Bernie Brewer and the Milwaukee Brewers Famous Racing Sausages. Food and beverage tickets will be sold (cash only).
There are actually two holiday trains, one that traverses Canada, while the other starts in Canada before rolling through the Midwest. They are approximately 1,000 feet long with more than a dozen brightly lit rail cars. The train is now in its 21st year of traversing the continent, collecting donations for local food banks along the way.
At both Racine County stops, a trio of Canadian artists will perform: singer-songwriter Meghan Patrick, rhythm and blues performer Tanika Charles, and country singer Kelly Prescott. There will also be a ceremony celebrating the holidays and donations to the Racine County Food Bank will be accepted.
“All the money stays local,” said Sue Gracyalny, who owns The Depot along with her husband Mark.
According to Canadian Pacific Railway, the Holiday Trains have raised more than $12 million and collected 4.5 million pounds of food since 1999.
Gracyalny has been a supporter of the Holiday Train’s efforts for years. Each year, her tavern — along with Ken and Dina Parker, of Parker Power Equipment, 11333 Highway G — hosts a family-friendly block party.
The Highway G railway crossing is immediately west of the tavern, cutting north-to-south across the rural road. In 2018, Gracyalny said they raised $1,000, a record she wants to break Dec. 2. She’s planning to team up with local schools and organizations — including Gifford School in Caledonia — to help with the food drive.
“We’re trying to take our fundraising over the top, in pounds of food or money raised, or a combination of both,” said Gracyalny.