RACINE COUNTY — Can you hear the sleigh bells?
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 7 p.m. on Dec. 2. The new stop will be at The Depot Tavern, 11402 Highway G, in Caledonia, on the same day at 8:15 p.m.
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.
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“All the money stays local,” said Sue Gracyalny, who owns The Depot along with her husband.
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, including a Christmas DJ and a visit from Santa, to support the Holiday Train’s cause and cheer it on as it slowly rolls past.
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 this December. 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,” she told The Journal Times, “in pounds of food or money raised, or a combination of both.”
Holiday train rolls into Sturtevant
A crowd of people watch the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train Thursday evening at the Amtrak Depot, 9900 East Exploration Ct., in Sturtevant.