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SCRANTON, Pa. – Steamtown National Historic Site partnered with the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) to host the company's 2010 Holiday Train visit to northeastern Pennsylvania on Saturday, November 28. The goodwill journey to Scranton and an exuberant holiday crowd estimated at 3,600 produced a record donation of approximately 2,000 lb. of food and $433 in cash donations for the food shelves at United Neighborhood Centers of NEPA. According to Lisa Durkin, Deputy Executive Director at UNC, "this year's donations were the best ever," and that "they couldn't have come at a better time because our shelves are mostly empty!" CPR corporate representatives also delivered a $1,000 donation to the UNC.
The special train arrived in the Steamtown NHS rail yards in late afternoon, and crews began prepping the converted boxcar event stage and testing the thousands of festive holiday lights on the 14-car train for the 6:00 p.m. show. Traffic was heavy in and around downtown Scranton, with many visitors traveling from the Poconos, Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia areas in Pennsylvania, as well as from Delaware, eastern New York and New Jersey. Parking at and around the historic site was at a premium, with many folks parking at the adjacent Mall at Steamtown to attend the event, get into the holiday spirit, make a donation, and then do some holiday shopping.
This year, CPR began a "Decorate and Donate" program for schools in order to engage and educate students about the needs in their communities and discover how their participation can impact the lives of their neighbors. Bear Creek Community Charter School, Bear Creek Township, Pa., accepted the challenge, and students collected more than 25 boxes and bags of nonperishable food totaling 2,309 items!
The event began promptly at 6:00 p.m. with welcoming remarks by Steamtown NHS Superintendent Kip Hagen and Lackawanna County Commissioner Mike Washo. Immediately following the Canadian Pacific's $1,000 corporate check presentation to the UNC, musician, entertainer and Juno-award winner Melanie Doane kicked off 30 minutes of high-energy entertainment. Above the festive "oohs" and "ahs" of the young and young-at-heart admiring the brightly decorated Holiday Train, sleigh bells were heard just before the Jolly Old Elf, Santa Claus, made a personal appearance! With two blasts from the train's horns at 6:30 p.m., the spectacular Holiday Train departed Steamtown NHS for a brief stop atop the famed Tunkhannock Viaduct at Nicholson, Pa. before continuing onto the next event stop at Binghamton, N.Y.
The Holiday Train program has raised more than $4.8 million and almost 2.3 million pounds of food since the first Holiday Train ran in 1999. Thousands of people gather trackside at depots, railroad crossings and other unusual venues along CPR's route to enjoy the arrival of the brightly decorated train lighting up the winter night. The entertainers, who ride in vintage private cars at the end of the 14-car train, hop out and climb aboard a boxcar in the middle of the train that opens to reveal a stage where they perform live holiday concerts and invite crowds to sing along. You can follow the route and the progress of CPR's 2010 Holiday Train by visiting www.cpr.ca.
- NPS -