Hometown Christmas at Amtrak Deport canceled

NILES — The Niles Amtrak depot will be lit with holiday cheer again this year, but without the usual ceremonial gathering with carols that area residents have grown to enjoy each year.

The Hometown Christmas at the Niles Amtrak Depot has been a tradition since 1991, but this year, like many things, the event has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Lynn Sobecki, chairman of the Hometown Christmas Depot for the Niles Four Flag Garden Club, the 29th annual Hometown Christmas has been canceled for the 2020 holiday.

“As long as we are all here next year to enjoy it, that’s the main thing,” Sobecki said. “We want to keep people safe.”

The cancellation was announced before the latest “pause to save lives” order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The club members decided it would not be safe to host a large gathering of people in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event usually includes a speech from the mayor or another prominent figure in the city, Christmas carols and the raffle of an Amtrak ticket. Santa Claus usually makes an appearance from the North Pole to check in on festivities in at the station.

“Hopefully, this [event] will continue next year,” Sobecki said.

While the event associated with unveiling the holiday decorations is canceled, the Four Flags Garden Club members will still be decorating the depot.

“If people want to see the depot decorated, it will still be decorated with the tree inside,” Sobecki said. “Look for the lights. They will be turned on within the next week.”

The outdoor decorations will go up first over the weekend after Thanksgiving, followed by the Christmas tree inside the station the week after.

Sobecki said the Four Flags Garden Club members were looking forward to decorating, but were going to adjust to keep themselves distanced from one another in the process.

“We all can’t be around the tree at the same time,” Sobecki said. “We can see each other at a social distance.”

The lights will be flipped on by Jack Plummer, but the timing was undisclosed, making it a surprise for anyone happening upon the station on the first evening it is lit for the season.

Berrien County

Cocaine, pistol discovered in search warrant on Phoenix Street in Niles

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Berrien County reports one new COVID-19 death

Berrien County

Berrien County launching survey to investigate broadband connectivity

Cass County

Cass County Fair announces 2021 book cover contest

Brandywine Education

SMC announces fall honor rolls

Berrien County

Honor Credit Union to award 23 high school seniors with $1,000 scholarship

Cass County

Lewis Cass ISD to become Heritage Southwest ISD

Cass County

Cass County Meals on Wheels workers save client from natural gas leak

News

Niles Township Board discusses e-bikes, public works equipment

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 540,115 cases, 13,865 deaths

Cassopolis

LEE celebrates MLK Day with virtual event

Cass County

Cass County Probate Court urges public to prepare for vaccination of incapacitated family members

Buchanan

Southwest Michigan wineries adapt to continued mandates

Brandywine Education

MEC accepting scholarship applications

Cass County

Bonine House to honor COVID-19 victims with light ceremony

Business

Organizers call Hunter Ice ‘non-festival’ a success

Berrien County

Short notice of MDHHS orders creates hurdle for southwest Michigan restaurants

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Cass County reports new COVID-19 deaths

Berrien County

LMC awards inaugural Spirit of MLK Spotlight honors

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Police Log: Jan. 13-17

Berrien County

Now is the Time” Martin Luther King Jr. celebration week begins at LMC

Dowagiac

SMC trustees give president positive first performance review

News

Niles Police Log: Jan. 7-13

Berrien County

Blossomtime extends pageant season