GALLERY: Santa Claus is coming (back) to town

NILES — A familiar face with glasses, a long white beard and a very special red and white suit made an appearance at the Niles High School parking lot, located at 1441 Eagle St., Wednesday afternoon.

Santa Claus himself came to pay a socially distanced visit to the children in the Niles area. Coming down from the North Pole for the occasion, Claus was brought to Niles High School by the Niles Fire Department in a special transport instead of his usual sleigh and reindeer.

The escort provided a window for Claus to greet and interact with children.

Claus waved and smiled at children as he arrived and was able to see them from the red truck.

The event drew families to the special event where Santa Claus waved, spreading cheer, and even tossing out candy canes to those attending his outdoor visit.

“It was an opportunity for folks to see that he is alive and well, and that Christmas will be OK,” said Lisa Croteau, coordinator of the event and director of the Niles Main Street Downtown Development Authority.

Niles Community Schools Superintendent Dan Applegate said the Greater Niles Chamber of Commerce called the school to organize the visit. Under the latest pandemic order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, high school students are learning remotely from home. With the parking lot largely unused currently, Applegate wanted to help make the visit possible.

“We wanted to make sure we could make this happen,” Applegate said. “We were excited for the opportunity. The students are going through rough times, and it can be sad. Any opportunity we have to bring hope, joy and holiday spirit to the community, we are all for it.”

Santa Claus will be making another appearance at Niles High School’s parking lot at 6 p.m. on Dec. 16.

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