They’ve made the set list, and checked the railcars’ holiday-shaped lights twice, now the Canadian Pacific Holiday trains are coming to town (and bringing music and awareness to hunger issues with them)!

With giant boxcar stages (a box car with its sides cut out and hinged on either side) and coaches filled with musicians, two CP trains (one Canadian, and one US) stop in over a hundred cities each year to play Christmas music and encourage spectators to bring donations for their local food banks.

We caught up with Anders Drerup, playing with The Claytones on the US Holiday Train, about living on a train, playing music on a boxcar, and encouraging the spirit of giving.

What’s it like to live on a train?

“It’s really great, actually. You’re surrounded by a bunch of like-minded people, who basically want to have the fundraising drive do as much as possible, and that’s why we’re all here. So it’s really hard to be in a bad mood on the train. If you’re ever having a bad day on the train, it’s pretty easy to turn it around….It’s an extremely positive experience, it restores your faith in humanity.”

Are there any downsides to living on a train?

“We don’t get a lot of exercise… We sleep on the train, eat on the train, everything happens on the train, but we do what we can—there’s a stationary bike…otherwise you get a little bit cramped up.”

Do you see The CP Holiday Train having an impact?

“Absolutely, I’ve bee doing the CP Holiday Train now for four years, and the train itself has been running for 15. Every year I’ve seen an exponential growth in the size of the crowds and the size of the donations. It’s crazy, everybody brings something out, sometimes people are actually throwing food up on the stage!”

Tell us about the box car stage

“It has a really impressive custom PA system. Some towns the show will be on the left, sometimes on the right, sometimes there will be people on both sides. So what they had to do was design two PA systems that are basically dueling PA systems, for the left and right channels.”

What’s your favourite holiday jingle?

“I like performing the classics cuz’ the kids all sing along. When we do night-time shows sometimes we’ll do ‘Silent Night.’ We’ll sing and have the crowd sing back, and there’s very few things that are that beautiful in the world: a whole bunch of people out there to help each other, all out in the freezing cold, all singing together… like hundreds of people, it’s pretty touching.”

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Check the schedule to see if a CP Holiday Train is making a stop in your town! Even if you don’t have a stop on the list, consider donating to your local food bank.

Here are the most-needed food bank items:

  • Non-perishables, like canned and dry goods (ie: pasta, soups, canned beans…)
  • Toiletries, like deodorant, feminine hygiene products, and toothpaste.
  • Pet food
  • Infant food and supplies.

 

You can also donate online, where CP will match donations to Feeding America or the Breakfast Club of Canada.

 

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