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Panel discusses plans for upcoming Niles winter festival

NILES — Council’s public utilities committee discussed plans for the city’s upcoming, inaugural downtown winter festival at its meeting Monday.

Councilman at-Large Doug Sollitto, who chairs the committee, said the festival will be the same weekend as the city’s Christmas tree lighting.

“People at Christmas time wanted a function, something to attend,” Sollitto said. “We always had a tree lighting, and that was it.”

Thus far, plans for the event include a pop up ice skating rink, an appearance by Santa Claus and food trucks.

One update Sollitto provided was the location of the ice skating rink.

Two options under consideration include having the rink near the food trucks by the Niles Fire Department as was previously done with attractions for the Harry Stevens Day Festival, or, having the pop up rink installed at the site of the former theater and Reisman’s buildings.

Sollitto and 2nd Ward Councilman Aaron Johnstone discussed establishing a committee of residents who could plan the winter festival.

“If you want to limit them just to (the winter festival) for now you could say it is a subcommittee of public grounds, you go ahead and get a couple people and their job would be to … do the leg work,” Johnstone said. “If we turn around and get individuals who are passionate about this and can bring that information to us and then we can have these types of public grounds meetings to shape this how we want it, take it back to council and get the money appropriated that we need, that’s how I envision this going.”

Johnstone suggested the committee could be similar to another public grounds subcommittee, the cemetery advisory board.

That subcommittee, which was officially formed in March, is composed of four residents — Jim DeChristefero, Becky DePanicis, Rocko Bowell and Nick Marcu.

Sollitto said the city’s tree lighting ceremony has typically been held on the first Monday after Thanksgiving. With the winterfest, the lighting will likely shift to the Friday or Saturday after the holiday.

Have an interesting story? Contact Mason Cole by email at mcole@tribtoday.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @masoncoletrib

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