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'A tradition': Holiday train makes festive stop in Springwater

Event features performance by Anyway Gang, helps raise funds for Elmvale and Barrie food banks

One of the area’s most popular Christmas events chugged into town today.

The CPKC Holiday Train (formerly CP Holiday Train) made it’s annual pit stop at the railway crossing at Anne Street North and Wenden Court in Springwater Wednesday afternoon, adorned with bright and colourful lights and featuring music by the Anyway Gang, a Canadian musical group made up of four friends from some of Canada’s most notable bands — Sam Roberts, Chris Murphy (Sloan), Menno Versteeg (Hollerado), and Dave Monks (Tokyo Police Club).  

The popular free event saw hundreds of people come out, with cars parked up and down Highway 26 near the crossing, which is located about 10 minutes north of Barrie, and featured a box-car stage and live music in an effort to raise money, food and awareness for both the Elmvale and Barrie food banks. 

“The township is thrilled that CPKC has chosen Springwater as a stop on the train route once again this year. By supporting our local food banks, the CPKC Holiday Train highlights that the festive season isn't just about decorations and presents, but about coming together, striving to ensure all our residents have an opportunity to enjoy a festive meal, embracing the love and joy of the season,” Springwater Township Mayor Jennifer Coughlin told BarrieToday prior to the event. 

Brooke Desjardins comes out annually to see the train and join in the festive fun, and this year brought 14-month-old daughter Alaynna Mulready. 

“Last year she was only three months old, so this is kind of the first year she can really notice what’s going on. It’s just something to keep us out and about in the cold weather,” said the Barrie resident. “We love the train and the lights. It’s very amusing to see everything come together … plus Christmas is our favourite time of the year. I just want to continue the tradition and show her everything that is great about the season.”

Wasaga Beach resident Preyanka Lidstone brought her eight-month-old daughter Wrenley Francis out to experience the festive event as they prepare for the youngster's first Christmas. 

“I want her to see Christmas things,” she said, adding that despite living nearby, this was also her first time checking out the train, which makes its way across the country. 

Emily Stocks and seven-year-old Brayden Gilbert have been driving up from Toronto every year specifically to see the train, and said it’s been a wonderful opportunity to spend time together.

“It’s kind of a tradition that we have had ever since he was less than a year old. We ... come and see the train and then go for lunch. We make a day of it,” Stocks said. “It’s just nice to get out of the city. It’s always a really good vibe. We have always had such a good experience here. It makes for a good day."

Wednesday was potentially the start of an annual tradition for Midland residents Lindsay Jones and Giovani Capurro, 7. 

“Gio loves trains, and has never seen the holiday train,” said Jones.

In addition to seeing the train and the giant engine, Capurro said he loves that the event helps people in need by raising money and collecting donations for local food banks.

Jerry Noble works at the rail crossing, but has come to the event with his family from Angus for the past five years.

“It’s just something simple and it’s free … and the kids love it,” he said, adding his three-year-old son Riley is also obsessed with trains.

Since 1999, the train has helped raise more than $22.5 million, and collect over five million pounds of food, for those in need across North America.