Lake Forest boy’s poem serves as inspiration
J.T. Kirages, 11, of Lake Forest recites his Canadian Pacific Holiday Train poem in Gurnee on Dec. 10. | Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 10, 2012 11:02AM
GURNEE — Eleven-year-old JT Kirages of Lake Forest overcame his nervousness and recited from memory the poem he wrote to commemorate the good works of the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train that stopped in Gurnee on Saturday.
“It took a lot of practice,” Kirages said. “I’m really glad I did it.”
Kirages read the poem onstage before a crowd estimated at well over 1,000 people who came to see the illuminated 14-car train that stopped at Viking Park in Gurnee Saturday afternoon.
“I hope what I did helps,” Kirages said.
The Holiday Train travels through Canada and the U.S. raising money and food donations for local food banks. Since it’s inception in 1999, the train has raised more than $6.4 million and over 2.6 million pounds of food in the U.S. and Canada.
The Gurnee stop was among 150 the train makes as it travels across the rail system through mid-December.
Jennifer Fitzgerald included her son’s poem in a thank-you note to Canadian Pacific earlier this year after watching the train travel non-stop through Lake Forest in 2011.
Railroad officials decided to use the 12-stanza verse as special inspiration for its holiday train decorated with neon lights as it progressed through the Midwest.
“We’re just so incredibly proud of him,” Fitzgerald said. “Who would have thought what started as a thank-you note would turn into this incredible event.”
A YouTube of Kirages reading his poem Saturday is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-_X4Zy9hfA&feature=youtube_gdata.