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Photo gallery: Holiday Train raises over $100K for food shelf

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Holiday Train co-chair Randy Bachman and Friends in Need Food Shelf director Michelle Rageth accept a donation from Adam and Matt Elling. The brothers, along with Tim Mauer, raised the money through proceeds from the Hale to the Bird 5K race in Cottage Grove. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 8
The boy to the right appears to be curious about the conversation between Michelle Rageth, director of the Friends in Need Food Shelf in St. Paul Park, and Santa Claus prior to the Dec. 10 arrival of the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train in Cottage Grove. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 8
Cousins Ulma Howlett, 4 (left) and Ozzy Howlett, 2, pose for their photo at the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train Dec. 10 in Cottage Grove. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 8
Balloonist Doug Schmidt provided some pyrotechnics for Larry Janski of Oakdale and his grandson Keller McGrane, 20 months, at the Dec. 10 Canadian Pacific Holiday Train in Cottage Grove. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia5 / 8
For the new Holiday Train Festival of Wreaths, families, businesses, churches, veterans organizations and the city each donated $125 for a wreath, which they then custom decorated. The event was sponsored by the Cottage Grove Arts Commission.6 / 8
Children play in the snow near the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia7 / 8
Cottage Grove public safety personnel huddle prior to the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia8 / 8
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Lights, Santa, action.

A chilled but excited throng greeted the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train on Monday, Dec. 10. For 16 years, Cottage Grove has been a whistle stop for the tricked-out transcontinental locomotive, which raises money for those in need.

The train blazed into view shortly after sunset along West Point Douglas Road just south of the 80th Street bridge. From the boxcar stage, guitarist and singer Willie Porter and the Trews wasted no time in getting the crowd moving with a seriously rocking version of the Chuck Berry classic “Run Rudolph Run.”

Former Holiday Train Committee Chair Mary Slusser, who brought the train to Cottage Grove 15 years ago, said she was happy to switch her job title to committee member.

“This is my first year on the committee and I’ve got a lot more down time, and I’m enjoying myself,” she said.

Emily White of Newport kept her 16-year volunteer streak alive. She supervised a group of volunteers who included cadets from the Park High School Air Force JROTC.

“We just couldn’t do it without them,” she said. “They’re helping so much.”

Randy Bachman, who co-chairs the event with Chelsea Swaggert, said the event netted over $100,000 in donations for the Friends in Need Food Shelf in St. Paul Park. The event drew an estimated 6,000 people, he said.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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