The anticipation was building.
The crowd heard the train horns from a distance — once, then twice and then a third time.
People scurried closer to the train tracks behind the American Locomotive Company Heritage Museum on Maxon Road Extension to get in position.
Finally coming into focus was the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train — complete with multicolored lights in the shape of snowflakes, snowmen and Christmas trees and gift boxes.
Adults hoisted children on their shoulders to get a better view. After a brief pause, a boxcar door opened to reveal the music stage. “That is awesome,” said Georgiana Lajuett of Schenectady, who was attending the event with her children for the first time.
“You’re waiting for Santa,” Lajuett said to her 2-year-old son Brandon, vowing to get there earlier next year to get a better spot.
The crowd was entertained with holiday-themed rock songs as people snapped pictures. People also ate baked goods donated by Price Chopper that were served by Glenville Rotary Club members.
Patty Serowick of Niskayuna said she had seen the train before but her 2-year-old granddaughter Molly and 9-year-old niece had not, so she wanted to give them the experience.
“Our granddaughter loves choo choo trains,” she said.
Seeing the decorated cars gets Serowick into the Christmas spirit.
“We put our Christmas wreath up today and our Christmas flag so we’re starting to get ready,” she said.
This year’s visit of the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train was special because it was in a new location. For years it stopped at the railroad crossing on Maxon Road Extension. Its new home was behind the site of a museum that will showcase the history of the former company that built 60,000 trains during its lifetime.
“I loved the way they did it this year — getting everybody off the street,” said Donna Nappi of Niskayuna.
Museum Executive Director Jim Cesare said he hopes it becomes an annual event in the new location. “It’s wonderful to see everybody come out for this.”
The event also collects food and money for local food banks. Canadian Pacific officials presented a check for $1,000 to the Schenectady Salvation Army.
Salvation Army Maj. Mike Hines said about 500 canned goods were donated. The food and funds will be used to support the soup kitchen, which serves 120 breakfasts and 180 lunches per weekday, and food pantry, which serves 75 families a week.
“It’s a great response,” he said.
Canadian Pacific will visit 150 communities during its tour. Since 1999, it has raised $5.6 million and collected 2.5 million pounds of food in the United States and Canada.
The train also stopped Sunday in Oneonta, Cobleskill, Delanson and Saratoga Springs. Today it goes to the Amtrak station in Fort Edward at 12:35 p.m., in Whitehall at 2:20 p.m., Ticonderoga at 3:50 p.m., Port Henry at 5:35 p.m. and Plattsburgh at 8 p.m.
The Sierzenga family of Ballston Spa was also enjoying the show. John Sierzenga, 7, said he liked the singing and his sister Sarah, 10, likes the lights.
When asked what they wanted for Christmas father Paul said “he pretty much wants the whole Toys R Us catalog.”
Mohawk Valley Railroad was showing off a model train on a display table inside the museum. Bob Smith, who co-owns the Hamburg Street business with his wife, Sue, said the business is the largest model train store within a 100-mile radius. The couple is reopening the business next month after taking over from the previous owner, who died.
Smith said he liked the fact that Schenectady has a nice holiday event now.
“It desperately needs that breath of fresh air,” he said.