November 22, 2005 > There's something for everyone during 'Christmas in Niles'
There's something for everyone during 'Christmas in Niles'
by Tina Cuccia
If you fancy nostalgic and traditional holiday cheer, you will likely find everything you're looking for this holiday season in Fremont's historic Niles District.
The early 1900s downtown ambience that Niles District is best known for is a perfect location to remind visitors what a cozy, fun and family-friendly Christmas can be like without all the hustle bustle of modern day holiday trappings.
Known throughout the Tri-Cities for its historical figures like Charlie Chaplin, Broncho Billy and many other Essanay Studio notables who made Niles their home during the early days of motion pictures, this unique corner of Fremont is filled with an impressive history that rivals any found in the "wild west." Storefronts are reminiscent of the days when transportation was fueled by hay and the transcontinental railroad connected through Niles Canyon. Over the years the unhurried and intimate atmosphere of the Niles District has attracted many who appreciate an abundance of antiques, collectibles, art and more surrounded by an old town feel.
Throughout the year, the Niles District draws those who value leisurely-paced window shopping while sipping a hot cup of coffee and strolling through shops where owners will share stories about the early days along with trivia about the area's better known former residents. But it's during the holiday season when the Niles District really glitters and glistens as the area gets spruced up for the holidays! Known as a haven for antique hunters, the Niles District offers a wide variety of shops that cater to those looking for unique, artistic and distinctive items for everyone on their holiday gift list.
Many holiday activities and events are held in the Niles District every December for those who love to revel in the holiday spirit and take in elaborate outdoor decorations and dazzling store windows.
You won't want to miss the Niles Festival of Lights Parade and Holiday Tree Lighting on Friday, Nov. 25. The tree lighting will take place at 6 p.m. with the parade following at 6:30 p.m. About 60 parade entries are expected to take part including giant helium balloons, marching bands, floats by local businesses and organizations, great performance groups including the renowned Tap Dancing Christmas Trees. Some favorite children's characters will be also be on hand including Clifford the Big Red Dog, Curious George, Spot the Dog, Lars the Polar Bear and of course Santa Claus!
The Niles monthly "Art Walk" will surely put visitors in the mood for the holidays on Friday, Dec. 2 from 5 until 8 p.m. Guests can watch as glass candy canes are made at Corrie Glass. At Kiowa Rose, "Birds of a Feather" will be featured. Bead artists are welcomed to bring their creations (not just jewelry) and share their techniques. The Fremont Art Association will have new paintings on display as well as photography. The art walk is about two years old and held the first Friday of each month (except January).
Until Sunday, Dec. 4, 20 Nile District shops are featuring tabletop Christmas trees that will be offered during the "Table Top Holiday Tree Auction." Proceeds from the silent auction will be being equally split between the Fremont Education Foundation and the Niles Main Street Association, a non-profit dedicated to revitalizing and historically preserving the Niles District. All bidders are entered into a drawing for a chance at a money tree that is decorated with $105.
To make exploring shops even more fun for visitors, participating businesses are offering a "Niles-opoly" board game. Visitors who complete the game will be eligible to be included in a drawing for a $200 gift certificate that can be used at one or more of the stores offering the game. As a gift, game players will receive a first annual collectible limited edition Niles Christmas Post Card (while supplies last).
If you would like to take in a movie, visit the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum on Saturday nights. Films begin at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5. For a complete listing of what's playing along with museum hours, visit the web site www.nilesfilmmuseum.org. As a special treat for children, on Sunday, Dec. 11, there will be a Kids Craft Sunday. For a $5 fee, children will be kept busy making crafts while their parents shop.
On Saturday, December 10, from noon to 5 p.m. come celebrate the community's long tradition of civic commitment, neighborhood charm, diversity and friendliness during the "Niles Holiday Home Tour." Sponsored by The Niles Main Street Association, the walking/driving tour promotes the preservation of Niles' rich history and varied architectural assets. See stylishly decorated homes in the Niles District with a reception being held between 1 and 4:30 p.m. at the Belvoir Springs Hotel built in 1894. Entertainment at the reception will be provided by Niles troubadour Michael McNevin and a wonderful assortment of appetizers, finger sandwiches and desserts will be served.
Also on December 10, see the Gunfighters of the Old West that will dress in authentic costumes and entertain visitors with a western version of a Christmas Carol. Tickets for the Niles Holiday Home Tour are available in advance for $15; and $20 on the day of the tour.
Following is a list and details on Niles holiday events:
Saturdays, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum
The museum is open on Saturdays from noon - 4 p.m.
Movies are shown on Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5
For more information, please call (510) 494-1411 or visit
Friday, Nov. 25: Niles Festival of Lights Parade and Holiday Tree Lighting. The tree lighting is at 6 p.m.; the parade begins at 6:30 p.m. For more information, please call the Niles Merchants Association at (510) 792-8023 or visit www.niles.org.
Friday and Saturday, November 26-27: outdoor music by "Indy," a 12 year old who plays accordion and portable piano between noon and 2 p.m.
Friday, December 2: Niles Art Walk from 5 to 8 p.m. Art walks are free and are offered the first Friday of every month (except January). Maps are available the afternoon of the walk at 37683 Niles Blvd. For further information please call (510) 793-8782 or visit www.niles.org.
Saturday, December 3: outdoor Bluegrass music provided by the Forget Me Nots
and the Parkmont Intermediate Band Ensemble between noon and 2 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 4: outdoor music by "Indy," a 12 year old who plays accordion and portable piano between noon and 2 p.m. (Dec. 4 is also the last day of bidding for the tabletop Christmas trees).
Saturday, December 10: Niles Holiday Home Tour from noon to 5 p.m. Sponsored by The Niles Main Street Association. A reception will be held at the Belvoir Springs Hotel. Tickets for the tour are available in advance for $15; and $20 on the day of the tour. The Tour starts at Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum at 37395 Niles Boulevard, Fremont. For more information, please call the Niles Main Street Association at (510) 742-9868 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, December 10: Gunfighters of the Old West dressed in authentic costumes will perform a western version of a Christmas Carol.
Sunday, December 11: Local Niles Singer Yvonne West will perform and
Harvey Green Elementary Band between noon and 2 p.m.
Saturday, Dec.17: the Tri-City Band Corps and Brewer's Brass will perform between noon and 2 p.m.
Sunday, December 18: entertainment by singer/guitarist Bill Epps and the bluegrass music by the Forget Me Nots.
Please note that entertainment is subject to change without notice and outdoor activities may be altered depending on weather conditions. For further information on Niles Holiday events, please visit www.niles.org.
Directions to Niles:
From Central Fremont, take Mowry Avenue to Mission Boulevard. Turn left turn at the intersection of Mowry and Mission; travel over the bridge and turn left at the first stoplight. This will take you under a railroad crossing and onto the main street, Niles Boulevard.
To enter from Union City, travel southeast on Alvarado-Niles Road and it becomes Niles Boulevard once entering Fremont.