Season opens with light

Published 1:34 pm Monday, November 26, 2007

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES – The chilly temperatures couldn't keep residents from celebrating the lighting of downtown Niles Saturday evening.
Stores stayed open late, refreshments were handed out and carriage rides provided by Elles Belles of Niles were given around town. At dusk, Santa arrived to help make Main Street a little brighter.
"Everything went well. We had lots of people downtown even though it was colder than last year, it was still very nice and beautiful. I have not heard anything but positive remarks from Saturday. A special thanks to everyone who stayed open and everyone who came to downtown," Program Manager for Niles Main Street Lisa Croteau said.
After downtown was lit, Santa met children at the corner of Second and Main streets for the lighting of the big tree and to hand out candy canes. Niles Mayor Mike McCauslin spoke with the crowd and Christmas music was provided.
Mary Marazita of Veni Sweet Shop said her store was steady throughout the day.
"We've been giving out samples and also celebrating 70 years," Marazita said. "It's a lot of fun to see people downtown again. With the new shops, like Kitchen Connection, I think it's helping to bring people downtown."
Nancy Martin agreed.
"Niles is coming to life again and it's about time. Slowly but surely storefronts are filling up and that is what Niles needs. The holiday decorations remind me of how great this town is," she said.
Martin said she remembers as a child shopping downtown with her family.
"We would come down here for everything. This used to be such a happening place. The DDA has really done a great job with this and hopefully in the near future we can see downtown thrive again," she added.
Carlie and Catie Manley, who came from Berrien Springs to celebrate with their grandmother, said they liked the popcorn and "horsey rides" the best.
"The horse is so pretty he took us around the street and cars were going by us. It was really neat," Carlie said.
"And the popcorn was yummy," Catie added.
Holiday celebrations will continue this Saturday as children will be able to have breakfast with Rudolph and friends from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at The Nuggett. Pancakes and sausage, juice, milk or hot chocolate and coffee will be served. Adults are $4 and children 10 and under are $2.
Also on Saturday, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. is the 16th annual Hometown Christmas Celebration at Amtrak Depot.
Refreshments will be served and entertainment will take place. The official lighting at the depot will take place at 6 p.m. There is no charge for this event.