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BROWNVILLE — Decorated with twinkling lights and equipped with a boxcar that transforms into a stage for performers, the holiday train plans to stop in Piscatakis County this winter. A Canadian Pacific Railroad holiday train will visit Brownville to perform a free concert and raise funds for the local food pantry, though no date or performer has been announced.

BROWNVILLE — Decorated with twinkling lights and equipped with a boxcar that transforms into a stage for performers, the holiday train plans to stop in Piscatakis County this winter.

Holiday train of the Canadian Pacific Railway will visit Brownville to perform a free concert and raise funds for the local food pantry, though no date or performer has been announced.

According to an information package provided by the company, the railroad company has two holiday trains that travel to more than 170 locations each year — one to Canada and the other to the United States and parts of Quebec and southern Ontario.

The Canadian Pacific Railroad, which has had a presence in Maine since the 1880s, is adding the state to its list of holiday train stops this year for the first time.

Photo courtesy of Canadian Pacific
HOLIDAY TRAIN – The Canadian Pacific Railway’s holiday train will stop in Brownville this winter. The company is also considering other locations in Maine.

The company sold its rail corridor through Brownville in 1995 but bought it back in 2020, spokesman Andy Cummings said. The railroad, which is considering stopping in Maine outside of Brownville, was hoping to get its holiday train into the state earlier, but the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed plans.

“We’re looking in multiple places [in Maine]but the schedule won’t be released until October,” Cummings said.

Railway broadcast virtual shows in 2020 and 2021. In 2021, it raised $1.7 million and about 112,000 pounds of food for 201 food banks through its virtual programming, according to information provided by the company.

When choosing stops, the railroad company considers many factors, such as population size and the presence of Canadian Pacific employees in the community, Cummings said. Brownville is a key location because the Canadian Pacific train crews operate there.

According to media reports, the train has made stops in places like Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa and Illinois in recent years.

Photo courtesy of Canadian Pacific
HOLIDAY EVENT – The community gathers to see the Canadian Pacific Railroad holiday train and watch the concert in this 2017 photo.

The holiday train program has raised about $21 million and 5 million pounds of food for food banks since it launched in 1999, he said. Canadian Pacific makes a corporate donation to each food pantry it selects for a stop, which is typically $4,500 or more depending on the size of the community.

As soon as the 1,000-foot holiday train with 14 decorated cars arrives in the community, a box car with motorized doors lowers and sets the stage for the performers. Along with the concert, Canadian Pacific hands over its donations to local authorities.

Attendees are encouraged to bring cash donations and canned food, and the host pantry is asked to set up a gathering place, Brownville interim city manager Felice Lyford said.

The food pantry has not yet been selected, she said, because planning for the event is still in its early stages. The nearest food bank is Dyer’s Hope House in Milo, and there are others in nearby towns and Piscatakis County.

“Usually we talk to municipal leaders and ask who they support and who they like to work with,” Cummings said. “We’re in these negotiations with the city.”

Canadian Pacific will announce its schedule and performers in mid-October, and more information can be found at Web site. Holiday trains run around Thanksgiving until December 17 or 18, Cummings said.

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