Four Flags Garden Club lights depot

Published 9:40 am Monday, December 6, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - A standing-room only crowd gathered at the Niles Amtrak Train Depot for the 13th Four Flags Garden Club Hometown Christmas celebration Saturday night.
Garden Club member and chairman of the Hometown Christmas Committee Karen Persa welcomed visitors and the royalty in attendance from local pageants and festivals to the depot.
Some visitors enjoyed homemade cookies baked by Garden Club and punch as they listened to musical entertainment provided by the Balos Family Gospel Singers of Buchanan, while children visited with Santa Claus and let their Christmas wishes be known to old St. Nick.
Mary Jane Lamphere of Niles enjoyed her fourth Hometown Christmas celebration this year with her grandsons Paul, 10, and Josh, 6, who had never been to the depot lighting event.
Both Paul and Josh visited with Santa and received a coloring book and set of crayons after divulging their holiday wishes to him. Paul asked for a scooter and Josh asked for a skateboard.
Both seemed to enjoy themselves throughout the evening.
When asked how many cookies he had eaten, Josh responded, "I don't know, I lost count."
Jody Liggett, chairman of the Hometown Christmas Committee, said the event has grown every year since it began in 1991.
Seven of the eight members of the Balos family played renditions of songs like "Joy to the World" and "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem." The youngest family member, 16-month-old Nathaniel, was a bit too young to join the family in playing this year, said family patriarch Mike Balos.
In addition to playing at the depot, the Balos family also entertained shoppers at Roncari-Thayer's Jewelers later in the evening.
Before the switch was thrown to light the depot, Niles City Mayor Michael McCauslin gave a brief speech, and then was whisked away by horse-drawn carriage to downtown Niles.
The Garden Club begins planning for the Hometown Christmas celebration in June of every year, Liggett said.
Liggett gave all the credit for the success of the event to her fellow Four Flags Garden Club members.