The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train won’t run in 2020…

Just when I thought that COVID-19 couldn’t mess enough with my world…

Now it’s severely altered one of my favorite Christmastime traditions.

For the past three years, I’ve photographed the brilliantly illuminated Canadian Pacific Holiday Train as it cruises through New York.  Last year, I participated in my first-ever “train chase,” where I photographed the train from various locations and locales over a two-day run.

I’ve photographed the great concerts as the train pulls up into places like Mechanicville and Saratoga Springs and Fort Edward.

And this year, I had a plan for photographing that train – and all its illuminated boxcars – in a very special location.  With a very special camera setup.

That changed on Friday, when Canadian Pacific put out a press release.

And the moment I saw it … my heart sank into the ground.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian Pacific will host a virtual concert for the holidays, and use that concert as a fundraiser to help needy families and food banks along CP’s US and Canada routes.  But to avoid creating “super-spreader” events where thousands of people are jammed together to see the train and its concerts, CP won’t run the Holiday Train in 2020.

First and foremost, I understand completely why CP made this decision.  The last thing the holiday needs is another opportunity for COVID-19 to spread from person to person.  That defeats the purpose of CP having a holiday train that spreads joy and happiness.

And right now, with COVID-19 tearing through the world, there’s already massive amounts of food uncertainty.  And food banks are stretched to their breaking points.  CP hasn’t forgotten its main goal for the Holiday Train – yes, to bring joy and the holiday spirit to everybody, but also to help feed those who are worried about their next meal or where it might come from.

Am I disappointed?  Yeah.  I’m allowed to be disappointed.  But I also know that CP is still trying to help whoever they can.  And when it’s safe to have the big 2246 chugging through the United States, it will happen again.

I pulled out my pocket calculator.  If I figure that I spent $50 on grocery donations (I bought some food and necessities at a grocery store, and dropped it off at one of the CP Holiday Train reception centers), and then factor in things like gasoline and film rolls and eats and lodging to chase the train for two days last year, I spent about $250.

So this holiday, I’ll be sending $250 – the equivalent of last year’s holiday train chase – to one of the local food pantries.  It’s only right.  It’s still part of the season of giving.  Give what you can, for those who are in need.

And maybe in 2021, the train will return.

And my super-special idea for a photo will happen then.

I’ll at least have one more year to prepare for it.