Tomah is invited to enjoy Christmas lights and music.

Covered in lights, the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train is set to return to Tomah Dec. 4 at 5:30 p.m. to kick off the holiday season and to assist area food pantries.

The Holiday Train program, launched in 1999, makes stops along the Canadian Pacific Railway’s routes in Canada and the United States. It has raised more than $13 million and four million pounds of food for the communities where the train stops.

The music is free, and attendees are asked to bring non-perishable food items to donate to the local food pantries.

Keith Creel, Canadian Pacific’s president and CEO, said the Holiday Train is all about supporting local food banks and the critical role they play in communities.

“People come for the beautifully lit train and stay for the incredible show — all in the name of community,” he said. “The holiday season is the best time of the year, and we look forward to bringing together thousands of Canadians and Americans this season for this incredibly important cause and a great time.”

Doug Staller, executive director of Tomah’s Neighbor for Neighbor Food Pantry, is enthusiastic about the event.

“This will be my first time (attending), but we’re excited,” he said.

The food pantry will have trucks parked on both sides of the tracks for people to drop off items.

It’s a fun spectacle of a night with the lights of the train and the concert in a box car, said Tina Thompson, Tomah Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitor’s Bureau executive director.

“People of all ages come to see the train pull up ... (it’s) completely lit up, and you can see it from quite a way,” she said. “With the lights and music, it’s really a spectacle, a great way to kick-off the holiday season and enjoy the beauty of the night.”

Tomah mayor Nellie Pater loves the camaraderie the train brings to the area.

“It brings us all together to celebrate the Christmas holiday, and it’s just a good feeling to have them all together and just enjoying themselves,” she said. “I think it’s a wonderful thing to have the Holiday Train come to Tomah.”

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