The 15th annual Canadian Pacific Holiday Train pierced the fog Wednesday and was greeted by about 1,000 people who gathered along Depot Road in Gurnee.
Kids were wide-eyed as Santa departed the train and handed out candy canes while the Claytones performed Christmas songs from a stage that appeared from a boxcar.
The Holiday Train decorated with Christmas lights started in Scranton, Pa., and will end its trip in Saskatchewan, Canada. It reaches more than 150 communities each year for a combined distance of 6,000 miles.
Attendees were encouraged to bring nonperishable food or a cash donation. All donations stay with the pantries in the community where they're donated.
Donations will benefit the Northern Illinois Food Bank, which provides food to more than 60,000 people each week through a network of 800 food pantries and partner feeding programs in 13 Illinois counties.
Since its inception in 1999, the Holiday Train has raised $7.4 million and 3 million pounds of food for local communities.
For schedules, photos, a route map and downloadable pictures of the U.S. and Canadian trains, visit www.cpr.ca or on Twitter @CPHolidaytrain #CPHolidayTrain.
For information about hunger in Illinois, visit solvehungertoday.org.