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November 19, 2008 > A festival of lights

A festival of lights

During the Christmas holiday season, the early 1900s downtown ambience of Niles is best known as a perfect location to remind visitors of a cozy, fun and family-friendly Christmas. This town, now an historic district of Fremont, has traditionally led the way into the holidays. Each year, on the evening following Thanksgiving, darkness is banished from Niles Boulevard as the street is illuminated with a tree lighting ceremony followed by a parade of lighted performers and floats that culminate with the initial appearance of Santa Claus. Don't miss the Niles Festival of Lights Parade and Holiday Tree Lighting on Friday, Nov. 28. The tree lighting will take place at 6 p.m. with the parade following at 6:30 p.m.

Known throughout the area as home to historical figures including 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.

Tree lightings and holiday activities will quickly consume following days and evenings as cities and districts follow. These continue traditions that began long ago. Historically, tree lighting ceremonies can be traced back to the pre-Christian era when golden apples and candles were hung from oak trees. The use of evergreen trees as part of the Christian tradition started in Germany over 400 years ago and by the 19th century, had spread throughout Europe. Tree lighting ceremonies in the nation's capital began in 1913 when 20,000 onlookers witnessed the lighting of the first Washington Community Christmas Tree. President Woodrow Wilson and Vice President Thomas Marshall officiated at that ceremony.

A listing of holiday tree lightings and festivals can be found in TCV. The location of the holiday calendar can be found by looking at the index on the front page.

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