Niles Amtrak Depot hosts 27th annual Holiday Homecoming

NILES — Nine-year-old Juliana Payne, of Niles Township, could not wait to tell Santa Claus that she wanted a spy kit and dinosaur stuffed animals for Christmas. On Saturday, Payne got the chance to share her wish list with Old St. Nick during the 27th annual Holiday Homecoming.

The traditional Christmas event was hosted by the Four Flags Garden Club at the historic Niles Amtrak Station. This year’s festivities drew more than 50 people to the train station. Those who attended sang Christmas carols and ate cookies. A raffle also took place and included a drawing for cookies, poinsettia plants and two free round-trip tickets to Chicago. At 6 p.m., the crowd gathered outside to give a final countdown before the train station’s holiday lights were turned on.

Mayor Nick Shelton addressed the crowd, reflecting on all the city had accomplished throughout 2018. He recognized Katrina Andrews for raising money to open Ruff & Tumble Dog Park, the first dog park to open in Niles. Shelton also gave a shoutout to Lisa Croteau, the Niles DDA Main Street director for obtaining new decorations to brighten up the downtown and the development of numerous new businesses.

Shelton commended Niles residents for coming together during the historic flood, which swept through southwest Michigan in February, damaging homes and city buildings.

“We had each other’s back,” Shelton said. “I saw strangers collecting debris and shoveling sludge from peoples’ basements. I saw volunteers lining up to contribute to clean up efforts.”

With a new year approaching, Shelton reminded residents to demonstrate the same grit and tenacity they had showed this year.

“I offer you a simple but effective New Year’s resolution,” Shelton said, “the same one I offered last year and the year before: Love your city. Love Niles.”

Several other city officials were in attendance for the festivities, including city council members Georgia Boggs, Jessica Nelson and Gretchen Bertschy.

While the event is a tradition for a number of families, for some it was their first time attending. Payne’s family was one example. Her parents, Jennifer and Jason and little brother, Alistair, 5, visited the event for the first time.

“We love the train station and like coming to local events,” Jennifer said. “We wanted to bring the kids to see Santa.”

“They are super excited,” Jason added.

The annual lighting ceremony at the Amtrak depot is a tradition that started when a scene from “Only the Lonely” was filmed at the train station in 1991. After finishing the movie, the film crew left the lights and the Four Flags Garden Club has helped to keep the lights on ever since.

Karen Persa, the media relations coordinator for the Four Flags Garden Club, helped to pass out cookies Saturday night and said she was proud to see the lights still glowing.

“I’m happy with how everything has turned out,” she said. “It thrills me that after all these years we still have the support from the community.”

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Middle/Union High School report positive COVID-19 cases

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 161,907 cases, 7,211 deaths

Cass County

Lewis Cass ISD superintendent announces retirement

Edwardsburg

DAR marks grave

Buchanan

Buchanan celebrates ‘Nicest Place in America’ honor Saturday

Dowagiac

Honor Credit Union gives back

News

MDHHS issues Emergency Order updating requirements for residential care facilities to allow for indoor visitation

Breaking News

Saturday morning shooting causes property damage in downtown Niles

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Municipal Airport hangar project progresses

Cass County

Lewis Cass ISD participates in teletherapy case study

Berrien County

Halloween activities coming to southwest Michigan

Buchanan

Districts grapple with school bus driver shortage

Cass County

Dowagiac man headed to prison on three counts of domestic violence

Cass County

Cass County’s 43rd Circuit Court awarded grant

Edwardsburg

Ontwa Township seeks input on parks plan

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Rotary hosts Army National Guard

Berrien County

Brandywine Middle/High School to go remote Oct. 23 to 30

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 152,862 cases, 7,129 deaths

Cass County

Cass District Library to host annual book sale

Cass County

Missing dog found shot, family grieving after five day search

Dowagiac

Honor Credit Union donates to annual Tree of Love campaign

Berrien County

Spectrum Health reinforces commitment to equity

News

Candidates for 78th district seat participate in community forum

Berrien County

Berrien County Trial Court receives continued funding