Hometown Christmas tradition continues at Amtrak DepotPublished 1:08pm Tuesday, November 27, 2012
More than 20 years ago, a movie studio put lights on the roof of the Niles Amtrak Depot for the final scene in the John Candy film, “Only the Lonely.”
When filming was finished, the studio left the lights behind.
Twenty-one years later, the lights are still burning bright during the Four Flags Garden Club’s annual Hometown Christmas event. This year’s event is from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Saturday at the train depot, 600 Dey St., Niles.
The free event will feature music, a public address by Mayor Mike McCauslin, community royalty, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, refreshments and the lighting ceremony at 6 p.m.
A special drawing will be held for two round-trip Amtrak tickets from Niles to Chicago.
A Fraser fir tree, donated by Pinecrest Christmas Tree Farm in Galien, will be decorated with nature-themed ornaments handmade by the Four Flags Garden Club.
The vestibules are adorned with greenery, lighted topiaries in the windows and a wreath over the mantle.
An added attraction is a mural of the Niles Depot circa 1893 painted by local artist and garden club member Janet Seaman.
Garden club members spent hours Monday decorating the depot in advance of the event.
The garden club, which has 25 members, adopted the Niles Depot in 1975.
“We do it because of our love of this beautiful 1892 Victorian building,” said Karen Persa, garden club member. “We wan to keep her looking good.”
Persa said 250 lights were added when the depot’s roof was redone this summer.
“It will be much brighter,” she said.
Since 1991, the depot has gone through two sets of lights, the most current being energy-efficient LEDs installed in 2010.
When the studio left the lights behind, the Four Flags Garden Club along with community members worked together in a campaign to “Keep the Lights Burning.” This was a fundraising endeavor to rewire the depot in order to use the lights, as the movie company had used portable generators.
Hometown Christmas is held on the first Saturday in December.