A preview of summer to come

Published 10:25 am Tuesday, April 6, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- During the school year, afternoons are relatively quiet throughout the City of Niles, but the city was stirring with life on Monday due to the arrival of spring break.
Riverfront Park was one of the many places in Niles revitalized by the presence of Niles area students.
Dowagiac residents Kathy Stewart and Shannon Hatch took advantage of the sunny weather by planning a picnic at the park with their children.
Stewart brought her two children and Hatch brought her three children to Riverfront Park in downtown Niles to enjoy the park's playground equipment and make use of the surrounding picnic tables.
Stewart said the forecasts for the week were not too promising, so when she saw how nice it was on Monday she decided to plan a day outdoors.
Niles resident Brenda Hammond brought her four grandchildren to Riverfront Park on Monday afternoon as part of a day full of fun activities.
The five of them shared a swinging bench and enjoyed the view of the river before going shopping for 7-year-old Wyatt Nichols' birthday.
Ring Lardner student Kyle Millin, 12, and Cedar Lane student Amanda Mangum, 17, were bored on their first day of spring break, so they decided to come to Riverfront Park to enjoy the outdoors and make use of the skate park.
The Niles-Buchanan YMCA was another place that had more young visitors than it typically does during the school year.
A group of almost 30 students are enrolled in the YMCA's Spring Fling, a program designed to give kids something to do during their week off of school.
Jane Norris, one of the program's coordinators, said Spring Fling gives students a constructive way to spend their spring break and helps parents who have to work this week by providing a fun place for their kids to go.
The Spring Fling program takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and offers a variety of activities including sports, games, swimming, arts and crafts and movies.
On Monday morning, the group went swimming, watched "Born to be Wild" and worked on paper mache piggy banks.
In addition to being a fun alternative to sitting at home, Norris said the program also tries to teach the students some valuable lessons.
The students all seemed to agree the YMCA's program was a nice change of pace from school.
Hacker's Golf N Games, 3019 S. 11th St. in Niles, was another popular destination for spring breakers on Monday.
Buchanan High School tenth graders Erin Martin and Laura Kulis were enjoying their first day off by playing each other in the arcade's air hockey game.
Kulis was already talking about a return trip to Hacker's for later on in the week.
Jim Macleer and his sons Jared and Jimmy made a trip to the Niles area all the way from New York to visit their grandfather Mike Macleer.
The family got into town on Sunday and will be spending their entire week in the area.
After a round of miniature golf and some go-kart racing, the group tried their hand at a game of pool in the arcade.
With plans to go to the Potowatomi Zoo, Curious Kids Museum and a handful of other are tourist attractions, these out-of-towners were excited about spending their spring break in the Niles area.