Celebrate Hometown Christmas Saturday

Published 11:35 pm Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Four Flags Garden Club made its annual trip to the Niles Amtrak Depot to decorate the interior of the train station for the holidays for the annual Hometown Christmas lighting event. Members of the club decorated the station's mantle, vestibule and windows and trimmed the tree. (Daily Star photo/JESSICA SIEFF)

A longtime Niles tradition, the annual Hometown Christmas will celebrate its 19th holiday season Saturday from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Niles Amtrak Depot, 600 Dey St.

Presented by the Four Flags Garden Club of Niles, the public is encouraged and invited to the depot for light refreshments and activities and the official lighting of the depot.

Musical entertainment will be provided this year by the barbershop-style group from River Bend Chorus, the South Bend chapter of Sweet Adelines International.

During the program, Niles Mayor Mike McCauslin will present a special address, community royalty will be on hand and Santa and Mrs. Claus are scheduled to attend.

Homemade cookies, candy and cider will be available and new LED energy-efficient lights will be illuminated during the lighting ceremony.

A special drawing will be held for two round-trip Amtrak tickets from Niles to Chicago. Visitors will be given a numbered ticket stub and the winners will be called at 5:45 p.m. Winners must be present.

Durm Farms has donated a blue spruce tree as part of the depot decorations and ornaments featuring a nature theme have been handmade by garden club members.

The vestibules are adorned with greenery, lighted topiaries in the windows and a wreath over the mantle.

As an added attraction, a mural of the Niles Depot circa 1893, painted by local artist and garden club member Janet Seaman will be on permanent display. The artwork had been hanging as part of a collage depicting the history of the City of Niles at the former YMCA. The mural depicts the depot as it looked when visitors to Chicago’s World Fair traveled through Niles, named the Garden City for the flower beds and greenhouse that the Michigan Central Railroad had established in Niles.

The annual Hometown Christmas event has been a tradition since 1991 after a scene shot for the holiday film “Only the Lonely” starring John Candy was filmed at the depot.

For the film, the studio placed lights on the roof to create a Christmas scene. After filming, the lights remained.  That’s when members of the Four Flags Garden Club organized and created “Hometown Christmas.” It is always held on the first Saturday in December.