Friday fireworks draw Niles community together
NILES – Families and friends arrived early at the Four Flags Apple Festival grounds on Friday. With fireworks planned to begin around 10 p.m., when it finally became dark enough, people began lining up their vehicles and setting up picnic dinners at 7 p.m. Anticipation and excitement were in the air as children played and families met with one another at their tailgates.
People in the surrounding neighborhoods gathered on their lawns, and those with hangars at the Jerry Tyler Memorial Airport opened their doors and set up front row seats for their gatherings.
After the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to cancel fireworks in 2020 and raised enough concerns to not schedule the event before mandates and restrictions began to lift, the city of Niles moved forward with organizing the celebration on July 2. When it was clear pandemic restrictions on gatherings would be lifted, Niles Mayor Nick Shelton proposed the city put on the event at the May 24 city council meeting.
At the June 14 council meeting, the council approved a $15,000 budget amendment to put on the event.
Some families began gathering early for the display on Friday evening. Included in this group was Niles resident Candice Post.
“It’s the first outing since the pandemic,” Post said. “You’d think everybody is going to come out, but I think everyone is traveling since they haven’t been able to see their families.”
Post has been spending time at her home and nearby family members’ homes this spring and was eager to have a family outing.
“It’s something to do and get out of the house as a group,” she said.
A member of Post’s group had arrived at the Four Flags Apple Festival grounds between 6 and 6:30 p.m. Friday to ensure they had a good spot to view the display from.
A little further down the row of cars sat Anita Echevarria and Bruce Taberski, where they shared an elephant ear.
“It’s nice to have [the event] this year,” Taberski said.
“We used to come out here when we were younger, and now we come out here with the kids,” Echevarria said, indicating the two were holding the spots for their children and grandchildren.
Later in the evening, the fireworks were launched from the Jerry Tyler Memorial airport for all around the area to enjoy.
Niles City Administrator Ric Huff said it was “a great turnout” for the event.
“It was nice to see all the friends and families gathered, socializing, cooking out and just enjoying themselves,” Huff said. “I was very pleased with the fireworks display and heard a lot of positive comments.”
Mayor Shelton also felt the event was a success.
“The event was a tremendous success,” Shelton said after the holiday weekend. “It was an important event, one we had been hoping for since the cancellation of the 2020 fireworks show, and one we had promised to hold as soon as we could.”
Shelton thanked the Niles City Council, staff and executive assistant Ryan Millin, who found and worked with the fireworks vendor for the event.
“It was incredible to see so many people together, not only celebrating our independence, freedom and country, but celebrating our return to normalcy,” Shelton said.