The Holiday Train visits Iowa Tuesday. (Canadian Pacific photo)

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train will chug back into eastern Iowa Tuesday.

It’s 1,000-foot long,14-car freight train that’s colorfully lit for the Christmas season from engine to caboose. Railroad spokesman Andy Cummings says the train is on a mission to raise money for local food banks with holiday music concerts at each stop.

“We’ve got a boxcar with special stage doors on each side, they drop like a drawbridge and they become a stage,” Cummings says. “We have a band that travels with the train. They come out and they play a free performance. It only goes for about a half an hour, so even in the cold weather, it’s a nice length of of time for a show.”

The train is scheduled to make seven more stops in Iowa for concerts both tomorrow and Wednesday, and each one will be a little different. “One of the fun parts of going town to town with the holiday train is seeing how each one is set up,” Cummings says. “Sometimes, it’s the main street in town. We’ll drop the stage right on Main Street and sometimes it’s few hundred people. Every community brings its own flavor. Sometimes they have fires going that people can gather around to stay warm. Sometimes they bring food trucks or hot chocolate.”

Cummings says the Holiday Train is sort of a rolling fundraiser for food banks in each town where it stops. “We ask the food bank to come out and set up a station where they can collect donations of non-perishable food items as well as cash,” Cummings says. “Cash is a great way to give to your local food bank because they have good purchasing power, they can buy more food for a dollar than you can, so we strongly encourage people to come out and give and enjoy the show.” Since 1999, the CP Holiday Train has raised more than 21-million dollars and five-million pounds of food for community food banks across the U.S. and Canada.

Cummings says all donations stay local to help feed those in need in the community. The train made stops last week in Davenport, Muscatine and Ottumwa. More stops are planned tomorrow in Clinton, Bellevue and Dubuque, and Wednesday in Guttenberg, Marquette, Lansing and New Albin.

Radio Iowa