The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

October 18, 2009

Holiday Train to visit Waseca, Janesville

Will pass through, not stop in, Mankato

The purchase of the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad by the Canadian Pacific will result in a quirky and memorable event for a trio of area cities in early December.

The Canadian Pacific is bringing its Holiday Train to Waseca and Janesville on Dec. 7 and New Ulm on Dec. 9, and it will pass through Mankato — but not stop — in between.

The glitzy, light-bedecked train pulls a modified boxcar that has a stage that slides out, presenting musicians and singers at each stop — along with an appeal for donations to local food shelves.

“It’s phenomenal,” said Kay Peterson, client services coordinator for Winona Volunteer Services, which operates the food shelf there. “It’s something you’d see in a Disney movie — but more.”

The Canadian Pacific has brought the train to Winona for seven straight years, along with other Mississippi River towns including the Twin Cities. Last year, the event brought the Winona food shelf about 1,200 pounds of food and $1,500 in cash donations.

“It’s not a huge fundraiser, but it’s a big community event,” Peterson said. “The people love it. ... You can’t get a parking spot.”

The CP entered into an agreement to buy the DM&E; in 2007 but didn’t take control of its operations until October 2008, after the CP had finalized its Holiday Train schedule, said CP spokesman Jeff Johnson. So this is the first year the railroad could show off its Yuletide choo-choo to south-central Minnesota.

People won’t be disappointed, Johnson promised.

“Spectacular. It’s something to see,” he said.

And there’s no guarantee it will be back in 2010. The CP has about 18,500 miles of rail in North America with the DM&E; track included, serving more than 1,100 towns. They’ve added a second Holiday Train to the original, but there’s still too much territory to cover in a single holiday season.

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