Niles DART Holiday Lights Tour to go virtual

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.”

Cass County

Dowagiac man pleads guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct

Business

Dowagiac business cited for COVID-19 safety violations

Cass County

Cass County Chief Judge talks COVID’s impact on treatment court

News

Historians, archaeologists with ties to Fort St. Joseph to give free lectures

Buchanan

Commission votes to make One Buchanan official city board

Berrien County

Businesses in Berrien, Cass counties report disparities in mandate enforcement

Edwardsburg

Edwardsburg/Ontwa Township Police Log: Jan. 11-18

Berrien County

Berrien County’s only homeless shelter raising money for repair

Cass County

Cass County commissioners approve five-year parks plan

Cass County

Woman ordered to pay back money taken from disabled son

Dowagiac

Ascension CAO provides vaccine update to Rotary

Berrien County

Spectrum Health Lakeland, Berrien County Health Department give joint update on COVID-19 immunizations, numbers

Cass County

Niles man sentenced to probation, jail time for 27th criminal conviction

Berrien County

Michigan indoor dining to resume Feb. 1 with restrictions

Berrien County

Lakeland, health department seeking COVID-19 vaccination volunteers

Business

Canceled Ice Time Festival to impact local businesses

Berrien County

New Berrien County prosecutor eyes crime prevention, support services

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Berrien, Van Buren counties report new COVID-19 deaths

Cass County

Cass County deputy saves dog from icy pond

Berrien County

Slow vaccine rollout hinders southwest Michigan distribution

Buchanan

Andrews University’s urban design studio arrives in Buchanan to kickoff revitalization project

Berrien County

Berrien County vaccine supplies remain limited, residents urged to have continued patience

Buchanan

‘Freddie the Stoner’ says Jimmy Kimmel changed his life

Cassopolis

Dowagiac charity campaign doubles fundraising goal