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Over 1,000 Cheer Holiday Train, Donate Over $2800 for Food Bank

After missing the Holiday Train in 2011, more than 1,000 community residents turned out to welcome the train back to help support the Racine County Food Bank.

Once again, the Racine-area community has stepped up for our neighbors in need.

A crowd of about 1,200 turned out in damp, chilly weather Saturday to cheer the CP Rail Holiday Train and make big donations to the Racine County Food Bank. Total contributions come to 2,164 pounds of food (the record of 2,939 in 2005) and we hit a record of cash donations of $2,855.19.

Dan Tailvalkoski, executive director of the Racine County Food Bank, sent an email to Patch Sunday morning with the totals. The money is combination of cash collected at the train and larger contributions from the railroad, Chicago  law firm Freeborn & Peters LLP, and Racine Emergency Physicians, S.C.

Sturtevant Police Chief Sean Marschke said he had an unofficial count of 1,200.

Tailvalkoski said the turnout was higher than any year in the past.

"I thought the number of people we had two years ago was huge, but there are definitely more here now than ever before," he said.

The CP Rail Holiday Train returned to Sturtevant Saturday after a two-year absence, and it was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd of over 1,000. The train has been traveling through the United States and Canada since 1999 to help support local food banks in the communities where the train stops.

Village President Steve Jansen was very pleased with the turnout and credited Mother Nature for not really raining on the event. Temperatures hovered around 35 and a mix of snow and rain fell intermittently.

"It's pretty nice out tonight considering we're into December now," he said. "I think people bundled up well and they're ready for a good time."

The train didn't use Sturtevant as a stop in 2011 after nearly 10 years of consistently visiting the village. Folks on the platform were excited about watching the brightly-lit, full-size locomotive pull up right in front of them.

The Palmer family from Racine - dad Matt, daughter Allison, and son Corbin - thought it was a great way to kick off Christmas. Members of Pack 567 from Nash Elementary in Kenosha used the Holiday Train's stop as the basis for their community service project.

"We brought food so people don't go hungry," said Patrick Sanderson, 6.

In front of the Food Bank's truck where people lined up to drop off their donations, volunteers from Nordco in Oak Creek made sure visitors got warmed by cups of hot chocolate and cookies.

Nordco manufactures railway repair equipment, and CP Rail is a customer. Participating in the Holiday Train was a way to offer support since many Nordco employees live in the Racine area.

"We can support our customer and our community at the same time," said Bob Coakley, director of sales and marketing. "It really just makes sense."

And the train was right on time, too, chugging into the Sturtevant Amtrak depot at 5:55 p.m., its cars wrapped in hundreds of brightly colored lights. The crowd cheered loudly as it approached and then waited in hushed expectation for a car to open to reveal the live band.

The Claytones, a Canadian trio, played and sang Christmas classics as well as an original holiday song. A representative from CP Rail appeared on stage and presented a $1,000 check to Tailvalkoski.

But then, the man himself appreared - Santa! - high-fiving children and shaking hands like a seasoned rock star. He clapped along with the beat and worked the crowd for a few more moments before it was time for the show to wrap and the train to pull away for travel to the next stop.

Heather Asiyanbi (Editor) December 09, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Such a great time at the Holiday Train! The Claytones are really good, and Santa, of course, was a big hit. Thank you to our amazing community who continue to step up and show up to support our neediest neighbors time and time again. We're at 2,164 pounds of food - Dan will get me cash numbers in a day or so. Way to go!
a quiet conservative December 09, 2012 at 08:54 PM
It was crazy busy around there...and there was a multi car accident about 6pm just East of Hwy H & 20 on Westbound Hwy 20
Heather Asiyanbi (Editor) December 09, 2012 at 08:59 PM
It was busy, but in the good way for the train. The good news about the accident is that it doesn't appear that anyone was seriously injured. We have a story here: http://patch.com/A-0kJL
Richard Head December 10, 2012 at 12:12 AM
CP Rail - a bitter story for the employees at this time. "Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (CP) plans to cut about 23 percent of its workforce in four years as Chief Executive Officer Hunter Harrison, hired after a proxy fight by hedge-fund manager William Ackman, boosts profitability at the least efficient of North America’s large railroads. The company plans to trim its workforce of 19,500 employees and contractors by 4,500 through 2016, using job cuts and attrition, the railroad said before Harrison outlined his strategy with investors in New York. The new CEO is also closing container-car terminals and re-evaluating assets from the 2007 acquisition of Dakota Minnesota & Eastern Railroad. " http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-12-04/ackman-backed-ceo-cuts-canadian-pacific-workforce-by-23-percent
Heather Asiyanbi (Editor) December 10, 2012 at 03:05 PM
@Richard - it would just kill you to focus on the positive and stay on track by focusing on the food bank and the donations.
Jason December 11, 2012 at 01:13 AM
I agree with heather, as a employee of the rail industry i can say all railroads are doing this. Not just the Cp.

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