Niles woman seeks to restore Summer Concerts in the Park

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, February 21, 2018

NILES — When Caryn Adler was a child growing up in Niles, her family used to spend one summer evening a week propped up on a picnic blanket, drinking lemonade and listening to a band perform for the summer concert series in Eastside Park.

“Our family would go over and it would be the most relaxing family time,” Adler said. “We would just go home feeling so wonderful.”

Adler works for the Niles District Library as the adult services team member and said she is working to restore the Summer Concerts in the Park series, which last took place about five years ago.

Caryn Adler

Adler is planning to have the Summer Concerts in the Park series take place Thursdays, from May 31 to Aug. 30. An additional back to school performance could also take place depending on the amount of sponsorship dollars raised. The concerts will be free and open to the public. Most will take place between 6 to 8 p.m., although there will be a few exceptions. All performances will take place in Riverfront Park.

Many local musicians have already contacted Adler to sign up for a spot. As of Monday night, Adler said she has only two musical slots out of 15 left to fill. Those who attend can expect to hear a variety of music from chorus to jazz to Broadway show tunes.

And while sharing music is the quintessential goal, Adler said she is hopeful that the restored series could help other families share similarly contented evenings together.

To set the project in motion, Adler has been working with the Lisa Croteau, the director of marketing and administration for the Niles Main Street Downtown Development Authority. While Croteau said the Niles Main Street has helped to get the project off the ground, she said it was Adler’s vision that spearheaded the concert series and local sponsorship dollars that will make it a reality. 

“It is a great project,” Croteau said. “As with every project in Niles, it needs somebody that wants to get it started.”

Adler is now in the process of seeking more sponsors to help cover the cost of the Summer Concerts in the Park. In the meantime, Croteau is also working to track down potential grants to underwrite some of the funding. 

In addition to restoring free regularly scheduled concerts, Adler also wanted to find a way that the concerts could benefit and spread awareness about local nonprofits. To do so, artists who perform will select a nonprofit that they want to recognize. That nonprofit will send representatives to be present at the concert to collect donations, search for volunteers and spread awareness about what they do to benefit the communities they serve. 

“I saw it as a win, win, win situation,” Adler said. “We win by getting bodies downtown and for 15 weeks. We will be showcasing our nonprofits and stronger nonprofits makes for stronger people in our community. And free admission to a concert.”

The first band to perform will be the Southwestern Michigan College Brass Band. They will perform at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 31, at Riverfront Park. The Niles High School band was selected as the week’s featured nonprofit.

Those who attend the concert series will also be able to patronize a local farmer’s market, which will be set up in the park during the concerts. 

Adler encouraged local business to sponsor the cause. She said anything that a business can contribute will be greatly appreciated. Those interested in sponsoring the event can do so by contacting Adler at

“What we are suggesting is breaking it down, maybe 10 eateries can donate $20,” Adler said. “I could then print a list of those eateries to hand out during the concert and announce that they sponsored the event. Then, people go home with a list of 10 restaurants.”

Adler said that the costs of the musical acts vary, so she does not have a concrete estimate at this time for how much needs to be raised.

Those interested in attending can find weekly previews of the artists expected to perform in the Niles Daily Star.