Niles to celebrate holidays, completion of streetscape project

Published 8:17 am Friday, November 19, 2004

Niles Downtown Development Authority
NILES - After almost two full years of intensive work and what often seemed like constant road construction, Niles residents, the downtown business community and the curious from around the area can now take a long look at what has been accomplished.
As Mayor Mike McCauslin said mid-summer after yet another rainstorm created havoc, "We have to keep our eye on the prize."
The prize is a beautiful new town with store fronts looking like they once did at the turn of the century, new street lights, planters, young trees, even new drinking fountains, benches and trash receptacles.
Niles, one of just seven communities in the state to receive the "Michigan Main Street" designation, has been re-born and it's time to celebrate!
It all started on Valentines Day, 2002, when Tim Batton, executive director of the Greater Niles Community Development Corp. received a telephone call from his Lansing housing development representative telling him that there might be some money for downtown if we could find a way to create jobs and to create residential units. It has been proven that jobs will come with a new appearance and residential units could be created if the brown
Kawneer fronts could be removed.
Acting on the advice of the Lansing representative, more contacts were made, all steps were taken and at long last the "Big Brown Take Down" began and we are now able to view the "prize." Only the completion of street light installation and bringing electricity to the planters remains.
Acting on the suggestion of Nick Kalogeresis from the National Main Street Center, the dedication and official opening of the new downtown will coincide with the beginning of the Christmas shopping season on Saturday, Dec. 4, to provide the best Christmas Niles has ever had.
Under the direction of the Niles DDA-Main Street Promotions Committee, all of the festivities will be unified with one moving to the other throughout the day from the 8 a.m. breakfast with Rudolph to the lighting of the depot beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Immediately following the lighting of the Amtrak Station, Mayor and Mrs. McCauslin will be brought into Niles by horse and carriage to begin the official proceedings.
The day will include a full schedule of events said Gloria Cooper, chair of the Niles DDA-Main Street Promotion Committee. They will begin at the Golden Nuggett for Breakfast with Rudolph, a time for pancakes and sausage with family and friends. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand at the opening of the Children's Christmas Shop, 210 Main to chat with all the children.
From 4:30 to 6:30pm, the Four Flags Garden Club will once again host the lighting of the Amtrak Depot. Members of Niles royalty including Miss Blossomtime and Mr. And Ms. Riverfest, the Mayor and of course Santa will all be on hand to enjoy food, fun and entertainment.
Featured will be Christmas music provided by the Balos Family Gospel Singers, a family of six talented youngsters who, along with their parents, sing and play acoustic stringed instruments.
Bartusch and The Oblates of Blue, an instrumental group from the University of Notre Dame.
At a given signal, lights will be turned on beginning at the foot of the Main Street bridge and slowly coming up the hill ending at the 5th street corner with the lighting of a 27-foot Norway Spruce tree given to the city by Jerry Hunziker, Owner of Hunziker's Landscaping
The lighting will be the start of an evening filled with entertainment, refreshments and carriage rides throughout the area.
In addition partnerships have been forged with a group of sponsors who have provided funds for materials, which have either been donated or provided at cost or below.
The Niles studio is the newest subsidiary of Miss Kathy's School of Dance-Kathy Kadulski, artistic director; and Christmas readings and skits presented by the Niles Four Flags Players and the Niles High School Drama Club at the Niles Gallery.
Open houses will be held at the Niles Art Association Gallery, 306 E. Main, and the Niles DDA-Main Street office, 210 E. Main. Shops will be open and most will be providing snacks for shoppers.
Carriage rides will run continuously through the area originating on Front Street, making a large loop up Sycamore to 4th and down Main Street.
There will be no charge for any aspect of the after 6 p.m. evening festivities
said Cooper.
Further information may be obtained by contacting the Niles DDA Main Street office at 687-4332.