MASON CITY | Hundreds of families gathered at the Canadian Pacific railroad yard to see the CP Holiday Train roll into Mason City Monday night.
The train was decked out in holiday spirit with lights and decorations and a car that converts into a stage for performers.
Canadian Country artists Doc Walker and Kira Isabella performed Christmas tunes for the lively crowd.
Children sat on their parent’s shoulders, families danced by the stage and friends took selfies by train.
Cheryl West brought her grandson, daughter and husband to the show, since they were already in the holiday spirit.
“We always have a good time,” West said.
Kristin Hanson enjoyed dancing with her three children, Emma, Nik and Ian.
“This event is needed for the holiday, since there’s no snow,” Hanson said. The family lives a few blocks from the rail yard and were happy to have the event so close.
The Holiday Train partnered with Hawkeye Harvest Food Bank and event-goers brought food, non-perishable items and cash to donate to the food pantry.
Newman Catholic High School boys basketball team members helped collect donations to the food bank, going out into the crowd with boxes to accept food items.
Hunter Fettkether and Mitchell Scholl were happy to help out with their team.
“It’s awesome to help others with all this food,” Fettkether said. “It’s really special.”
Scholl said the volunteer work is good team-building.
“A lot of people don’t realize how important this is to the community,” he said.
Harvest Food Bank volunteer Ozzie Ohl said they would easily surpass the 2013 CP train visit’s total of 570 pounds of food and non-perishable items and $252 in cash.
“Tonight, the poundage, we’re just going to explode past that. Our van is almost full,” Ohl said at the beginning of the event. “This is a record turnout. I’ve never seen as big a crowd.”
This is the 17th year for the CP Holiday Trains. They visit approximately 150 communities throughout the Christmas season to raise food and cash donations for food banks in North America.
There were two trains that left the Montreal area for the kickoff Nov. 27 and 28. One train, the Canadian train, travels west through Canada to British Columbia. The other train makes stops in communities throughout the U.S. Northeast and Midwest, then returns to Canada for shows in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
The train will stop in Charles City at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, at the intersection of Main Street and Grand Avenue.