ROUSES POINT — This year, Canadian Pacific's Holiday Train will roll into Rouses Point first and other stops three days later.
The train is scheduled to be at Rouses Point's Amtrak Station at 10:30 p.m. Friday as its first U.S. stop.
The train will then wind into Pennsylvania and return on Monday, getting to Ticonderoga's Amtrak Station at 3:50 p.m., followed by Port Henry at 5:35 and Plattsburgh at 8.
MUSIC AND FOOD
This year, the chief entertainer on the train will be recording artist Willy Porter, whose latest album is "Live at BoMA."
An acoustic guitarist and pop singer, Porter has done European and American tours with Rickie Lee Jones, Tori Amos, The Cranberries, Jethro Tull and Paul Simon.
Everyone who turns out to see the train is asked to bring a non-perishable food item to help local food pantries.
Canadian Pacific also donates $1,000 to each local food-shelf program.
The Holiday Train Program began in 1999 with a few communities and a few lights on a freight train.
Now the train has hundreds of thousands of festive LED lights and a live show featuring well-known performers who donate their time.
It's one of Canadian Pacific Railway's main ambassadors in Canada and the United States and is the only fundraiser of its kind for food banks in North America.
Since the program's start, more than $5.6 million and 2.45 million pounds of food have been collected in Canada and the United States.
Rouses Point is the only local stop with free hot chocolate, provided by Village Mayor George Rivers and his wife, Peggy.
"We always have a pretty good crowd," the mayor said. "We're their very first stop in the U.S. People enjoy the Holiday Train; a couple hundred people or better come out."
He said the train blocks the street so performers can put on their program.
"We do quite well with food donations when the train arrives. The Fire Department brings a pickup truck, and people put food in it, and they (CP Railway) give us a check for the food shelf."
He said he's not running for another term as mayor, so it will be up to someone else to take up the mantle and make the hot chocolate next year.
"This is the last year my wife and I will do the hot chocolate. We've done it every year since they started."
On its return trip northward on Monday, the train gets in to the Pell's Crossing Amtrak Station in Ticonderoga at 3:50 p.m.
Ticonderoga Town Supervisor Debra Malaney said Deputy Supervisor Robert C. Dedrick will be there to greet the train.
"We love the Holiday Train," Malaney said. "It opens the holiday season. We're so fortunate they're helping our food pantry with a check and food."
Next, the train will hit Port Henry at 5:35 p.m., and Moriah Town Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava said he intends to be waiting.
"The Holiday Train is absolutely a benefit to the community. The food shelf is really hurting right now, and people from all over the community and outside it always bring in food."
He said children love the train's multi-colored holiday lights.
"It's an enjoyable experience."
Finally, the train arrives in Plattsburgh at 8 p.m., and Mayor Donald Kasprzak said he plans to arrive early.
"I truly enjoy the train. I've only missed it once. I applaud the commitment by CP Railway on this every year."
A large crowd greets the Holiday Train every year in his city, Kasprzak said.
"There are so many smiling children. It kicks off the holiday season."
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