1 January 2006
It started one Christmas when Tim McCloone volunteered to feed the homeless: "It was so quiet. So depressing." Something was missing. Music. In 1993, McCloone formed the answer: Holiday Express. Each year from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve, nearly 400 New Jersey musicians and volunteers band together to spread Christmas cheer. Their venues are soup kitchens and nursing homes. Their audience is the poor -- poor in health, wallet, and spirit. "If Christmas were on wheels," said one fan, "it would be Holiday Express." Weeks after the tragedy of 9/11, Holiday Express launches its most ambitious season: 50 shows in 30 days. To pull it off, they'll have to place 3,000 phone calls, pack 11,000 gift bags, inflate 4,500 balloons, make 2,000 ornaments, travel 5,000 miles, give 5,000 hugs -- and sing 1,800 songs. Along the way, a Grinch-like setback: losing their warehouse. On the road, a walk-on -- by a guitarist named Springsteen. And in the end, a revelation: the true meaning of Christmas.
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