Niles DART Holiday Lights Tour to go virtual

Published 7:58 am Friday, December 4, 2020

NILES – Christmas decorations twinkling in the evenings is an annual tradition to observe around the Niles community. One way for many residents without access to their own vehicle to witness the display is by reserving their seat on the Niles Dial A Ride Bus Service. Typically, DART uses the third Tuesday of December to take a tour of the city’s Christmas lights.

However, this year, as with many changes to holiday gathering traditions, the Niles Dial A Ride Holiday Lights Tour will take a different form.

“We want people to be safe, and COVID-19 is definitely still a concern,” said DART’s General Manager Kelly Getmen-Dissette. “A virtual tour is the safest way we can still offer the tour.”

DART is teaming up with Charles Nelson of On Base Productions to film the lights, and create a professional, virtual holiday tour experience for those missing out on the in-person experience this year.

The annual event, when up and running, is free of charge and sees up to 75 riders reserving seats to take the tour.

Notable attractions from years past will be included in the tour, such as the Niles Amtrak depot, Niles History Museum, and even an appearance from Niles resident Bill Kennedy. Kenney’s Winn Road home is a beloved stop on the tour.

“It is fantastic,” Getmen-Dissette said. “He lights [the house] up like the Griswolds.”
Getmen-Dissette alluded to the very bright and festive decorations from the 1989 Christmas movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” where Chevy Chase, starring as Clark W. Griswold, tries to create a perfect Christmas vacation, including a very bright Christmas display on his family’s home.

“[Kennedy] comes out and dresses like Santa,” Getmen-Dissette said. “He will be involved this year, even though it will be virtual.”

The route is generally planned closer to the event, as more Christmas decorations are put up around the city.

“We have those couple of standbys, and the drivers and staff, as they are out and about in the community in the evenings will come in and tell us some of the places to include [on the routes],” Getmen-Dissette said.

Without the riders on the buses this year, Nelson will be working to capture the experience.

“We are going got have him ride the bus and do some filming,” Getmen-Dissette said. “Charles has agreed to put it together, so it will still be available for viewing a few days before Christmas.”

The video will be linked to the Niles Dial A Ride Transportation page on the city’s website.

In a year in which traditional plans have been impacted by COVID-19 precautions and mandates, Getmen-Dissette is happy to be able to find an alternative way to present the tour.

“It is definitely something that is meaningful to our riders and our community,” she said. “It is something we are happy to keep doing.”