“It’s cold here!” singer Sheryl Crow shouted from the stage as she welcomed up to 15,000 people to a concert stop by the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train in Cottage Grove Saturday night. Jubilant fans of all ages, some bundled in snowsuits and waving glow sticks, cheered, huddled together and sometimes took refuge in shuttle buses during the free outdoor concert, which also featured Take 6 and the Claytones.
The stop in Cottage Grove — touted as the largest event in the city’s history — collected food and raised money for the Friends in Need Food Shelf in St. Paul Park. Along with the concert, one of the biggest events of the tour, the railroad set up a North Pole Station that included crafts, a place to meet Santa Claus, Christmas tree displays and other attractions.
The Holiday Train, decked out in colored lights, has been a transcontinental fundraising event for 15 years; it visits 26 cities in Minnesota this year. On Sunday, the train has fundraisers in Loretto, Buffalo, Annandale and Kimball.
The train stopped in northeast Minneapolis on Thursday night, drawing about 2,000 people and raising money for Eastside Neighborhood Services. Since 1999, the train has raised about $7.4 million and about 3 million pounds of food for North American food shelves.