Carrie Hlady is hoping to secure an early 2014 Christmas gift for her kids.
From left to right, the Hlady family – Dustan, one-and-half year old Cohen, Carrie and three-year-old Reese – posed with Santa Claus outside the CP Holiday Train on Dec. 5. The family entered this photo in a contest for a chance to ride a leg of next year's Holiday Train. Submitted photo
“We have two little boys – one is three and one is one-and-a-half – and they are both completely obsessed with trains,” said Hlady.
That obsession came full circle on Dec. 5 when the Canadian Pacific (CP) Holiday Train rolled through Moose Jaw, collecting donations for the Moose Jaw & District Food Bank.
Hlady and her husband, Dustan, have lived in the Friendly City for the last 10 years, but through Facebook she heard, for the first time, about the Holiday Train. And since her two boys are in love with trains, she figured it was worth it to bring them out to the charitable event.
“We started by driving out of town,” said Hlady. “We were parked in the middle of nowhere by a set of railway tracks, and eventually comes along this incredible, beautiful train all lit up with Christmas music playing. And oh my goodness, our sons' eyes were just like saucers.
“It was just like witnessing a miracle for them.”
The family of four then drove back into the city to take in the actual event.
“It was just so festive and Santa was walking around. It was just an incredible experience,” Hlady said. “They had such a great time.”
The Hlady family also brought their camera and snapped a few pictures. It wasn’t until they returned home that Hlady discovered – also through Facebook – CP had a photo contest associated with the Holiday Train.
The Capture the Spirit Contest allowed people to take pictures at one of the many Holiday Train stops across Canada and parts of the United States, and enter a contest to win a trip for four aboard one leg of the 2014 Holiday Train.
Hlady entered the contest and as of Dec. 23, her photo has the second most likes on Facebook. The two most liked pictures will win the trip for four, as well as a $500 donation to the photographer’s respective local food banks.
“The whole thing is done to raise money for the food bank, so it's really a beautiful community bonus,” Hlady said.
She also told the Times-Herald it has been neat to be part of something that will go toward helping the food bank.
“It's been super exciting to watch the whole community jump in and see people I don't even know go on and vote every day,” said Hlady.
If her photo holds on to its second place position, Hlady said her family would likely go on the Holiday Train from Regina to Moose Jaw next December.
“They've never been on a train,” said Hlady of her boys. “It would just be an incredible experience for them to just get on that train.”
Votes for the Hlady family’s Holiday Train picture can be made on Facebook until Dec. 27.
Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks