Tag Archives: event

Lenten Fish Fries

March 16, 2017 by
Photography by Joshua Foo

Lent in Omaha—a time of repentance and moderation for devout Catholics—is synonymous with crowded lines of happy, drunken people waiting for heaping piles of deep-fried fish.

Parishioners and non-churchgoers alike rejoice with the approach of Ash Wednesday. Non-Catholics who have never joined in the fun should not hesitate. All are welcome. Lenten fish fries (complete with raffles, pickle cards, and bake sales) are the biggest fundraising event of the year for many Catholic churches, schools, and charities in Omaha.

The beer-infused Friday fry-day gatherings are a popular annual ritual in Midwestern cities with robust Catholic communities. Omaha’s large Catholic population means that several dozen churches will host fish fries throughout the 40 days of Lenten fast (six weeks). Meanwhile, there are plenty of other community groups, such as the local Disabled American Veterans, hosting their own Lenten fish fries.

Some start the Friday before Ash Wednesday. Most begin after Ash Wednesday formally initiates the Lenten season. Some conclude after only a few weeks; others continue for the entire duration of the Lenten fast, including Good Friday two days before Easter.

Not all of them are bacchanals, with children running wild while parents and young adults socialize. A few are alcohol-free. But all are genuine family-friendly celebrations of community.

Expect to spend a few hours standing and waiting in line at Omaha’s most-popular fish fries. The long wait—and the chance to meet new friends while drinking beer—is sometimes the most fun part of the evening.

Omaha Magazine has compiled a list of six must-try fish fries for every week during Lent. But the list is hardly exhaustive. Other excellent fish fries are plentiful in the Omaha area. For those in a hurry, seeking out lesser-known gatherings might even save on the wait time. Or you might just discover a new Lenten favorite.

HOLY NAME CATHOLIC CHURCH (2017 Best of Omaha Winner)

2901 Fontenelle Blvd., Omaha, NE 68104 . 402.451.6622 . holynameomaha.org

Omaha’s oldest Lenten fish fry event, the Holy Name “Fryday” is famous for its jam-packed line, fried Alaskan pollock, french fries, coleslaw, and Rotella’s bread. The BYOB line makes the event especially unique for the 21-and-over crowd. Those arriving at 6 p.m. can expect to find a line stretching out the church, through the adjacent Holy Name Elementary School, and circling around the building. A wait time of three hours is not unusual. The initiated come prepared with coolers full of beer to sustain drinking through the long wait. Upon entering the main building, a free cup of beer is offered. Another free cup of beer is offered if there’s a line out the cafeteria. More beer is sold inside the cafeteria, and a storeroom accommodates winter coats and coolers. Nebraska politicians are known to make appearances at the event, which averages an attendance of 2,300 people per night. Fridays (5-8 p.m.), February 24 (pre-Lenten) to April 7

MARY OUR QUEEN CATHOLIC CHURCH (2017 Best of Omaha Winner)

3405 S. 118th St., Omaha, NE 68144 . 402.333.8662 . maryourqueenchurch.com

A packed line meanders through the halls of Mary Our Queen School, where intermittent refreshment tables allow visitors to replenish their beer pitchers/cups in one of Omaha’s most-popular Lenten fish fries. Young volunteers walk up and down the school’s hallway to collect emptied pitchers. Popcorn is available in the line near the cafeteria. A drive-through allows motorists to avoid the packed halls. Food options include: fried or baked fish, macaroni and cheese, spudsters, fries, coleslaw, bread, with assorted soft drinks and desserts also available for sale. Fridays (5-8 p.m.), March 3 to April 7

ST. PATRICK’S CHURCH OF ELKHORN (2017 Best of Omaha Winner)

20500 West Maple Road, Elkhorn, NE 68022 . 402.289.4289 . stpatselkhorn.org

The fish fry at St. Patrick’s features fried or baked catfish and/or pollock. Margaritas and a variety of beers offer a change of pace from the adult beverages typically available at area fish fries. Cheese pizza, fries, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, and dessert round out the available food options. There’s a drive-through, and there are clowns and face-painting for the kids inside. Fridays (5-9:30 p.m.), March 3 to April 7

ST. VINCENT DE PAUL CATHOLIC CHURCH

14330 Eagle Run Drive, Omaha, NE 68164 . 402.496.7988 . svdpomaha.org

A cheerful and welcoming atmosphere radiates from the jam-packed line snaking through the halls of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School. The event features $3 cups, $8 bottles of wine, and $8 pitchers of Boulevard, Lucky Bucket, or Bud Light beer. For those seeking better quality beer on the cheap, St. Vincent de Paul’s fish fry is an excellent choice. Food options include fried or baked fish, cheese pizza, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, and fries or baked potato, with assorted soft drinks and desserts also available for sale. Credit cards accepted. Fridays (5:30-8:30 p.m.), March 3 to April 7

ST. JOHN’S GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH

602 Park Ave., Omaha, NE 68105 . 402.345.7103 . stjohnsgreekorthodox.org

Alcohol is not sold at the event; however, St. John’s offers possibly the most delicious food available at any Omaha area Lenten fish fry. The church also offers historic tours of its Byzantine-style building from 5:30-6:30 p.m. A kitchen full of volunteers (some of whom grew up in Greece and migrated to the United States) cook and serve plaki—a Greek baked cod with Mediterranean sauce. Also available: panko-fried cod, breaded-fried shrimp, baked salmon, and vegetable moussaka (an eggplant lasagna), spanakopita (a pie filled with spinach and feta cheese), and piropita (cheese baked in phyllo dough). Specialty cheesecakes and baklava sundaes await at the dessert bar. Fridays (4:30 to 8 p.m.), March 3 to April 7

HOLY GHOST CATHOLIC CHURCH

5219 S. 53rd St., Omaha, NE 68117 . 402.731.3176 . holyghostomaha.com

Clam chowder is one of the unique offerings at Holy Ghost Parish’s annual Lenten fish fry. The varied menu offers: shrimp, baked or fried cod, macaroni and cheese, or a combo dinner. Each dinner comes with baked potato, salad, fruit bar, and a drink. Beer, margaritas, and “watermelons” (a mixed drink) are sold. While the line is long, the wait is neither the longest nor the most beer-soaked in town. Expedited takeout service is available at the west end of the church. Fridays (4-8 p.m.), February 24 (pre-Lenten) to April 7.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Destinations

February 22, 2017 by

AKSARBEN VILLAGE

Horse stalls went bye-bye long ago. Now, Aksarben Village is losing car stalls, too. But that’s a good thing, as far as continued growth of the former horse-racing grounds goes. Dirt is overturned and heavy equipment sits on the plot extending north and east from 67th and Frances streets, formerly a parking lot for visitors to the bustling area. That’s because work has commenced at the corner on what will become HDR’s new global headquarters, which opens some time in 2019. The temporary loss of parking will be offset by great gain for Aksarben Village — a 10-story home for nearly 1,200 employees with a first floor including 18,000 square feet of retail space. HDR also is building an adjacent parking garage with room for ground-level shops and restaurants. But wait, car owners, there’s more. Farther up 67th Street, near Pacific, the University of Nebraska-Omaha is building a garage that should be completed this fall. Plenty of parking for plenty to do.

BENSON

A continental shift has taken place in Benson — Espana is out and Au Courant Regional Kitchen is in, offering Benson denizens another food option at 6064 Maple St. That means a move from now-closed Espana’s Spanish fare to now-open Au Courant’s “approachable European-influenced dishes with a focus on regional ingredients.” Sound tasty? Give your tastebuds an eye-tease with the menu at aucourantrestaurant.com. Also new in B-Town: Parlour 1887 (parlour1887.com) has finished an expansion first announced in 2015 that has doubled the hair salon’s original footprint. That’s a big to-do at the place of  ’dos.

BLACKSTONE DISTRICT

The newest Blackstone District restaurant, which takes its name from Nebraska’s state bird, is ready to fly. Stirnella Bar & Kitchen, located at 3814 Farnam St., was preparing to be open by Valentine’s Day. By mid-January it had debuted staff uniforms, photos of its decor, and a preview of its delectable-looking dinner menu. Stirnella (Nebraska’s meadowlark is part of the genus and species “Sturnella neglecta”) will offer a hybrid of bistro and gastro pub fare “that serves refined comfort food with global influences,” plus a seasonal menu inspired by local ingredients. Fly to stirnella.com for more.

DUNDEE

Film Streams (filmstreams.org) made a splash in January announcing details on its renovation of the  historic Dundee Theater. Work began in 2017’s first month on features including:

Repair and renovation of the original theater auditorium, which will be equipped with the latest projection and sound technology able to screen films in a variety of formats, including reel-to-reel 35mm and DCP presentations.

A throwback vertical “Dundee” sign facing Dodge Street.

An entryway that opens to a landscaped patio/pocket park.

New ticketing and concessions counters.

A store with film books, Blu-ray Discs and other cinema-related offerings.

A café run through a yet-to-be-announced partnership.

A 25-seat micro-cinema.

Oh, yeah, they’ll show movies there, too. And Dundee-ers won’t have long to wait—the project should be completed by the end of 2017.

MIDTOWN

In a surprise to many—especially those holding its apparently now-defunct gift cards—Brix shut its doors in January at both its Midtown Crossing and Village Pointe locations. It was not clear at press time what factor, if any, was played by a former Brix employee, who in late December pleaded not guilty to two counts of felony theft by deception after being accused of stealing more than $110,000 as part of a gift card scheme. Despite the closing, Midtown has celebrated two additions of late as the doors opened to the “Japanese Americana street food” spot Ugly Duck (3201 Farnam St.) and to Persian rug “pop-up shop” The Importer.

NORTH OMAHA

The restoration of North Omaha’s 24th and Lake area continues its spectacular trajectory. In January, the Union for Contemporary Art moved into the completely renovated, historic Blue Lion building located at 2423 N. 24th St. The Blue Lion building is a cornerstone in the historic district. Originally constructed in 1913, the Blue Lion is named after two of the building’s earliest tenants: McGill’s Blue Room, a nightclub that attracted many nationally known black musicians, and Lion Products, a farm machinery distributor. The entire district was listed as a federally recognized historic district in April 2016.

According to its website, “The Union for Contemporary Art is committed to strengthening the creative culture of the greater Omaha area by providing direct support to local artists and increasing the visibility of contemporary art forms in the community.” Founder and executive director Brigitte McQueen Shew says the Union strives to unite artists and the community to inspire positive social change in North Omaha. “The organization was founded on the belief that the arts can be a vehicle for social justice and greater civic engagement,” she says. “We strive to utilize the arts as a bridge to connect our diverse community in innovative and meaningful ways.”

The Union will be hosting the annual Omaha Zinefest March 11. Event organizer Andrea Kszystyniak says Zinefest is a celebration of independent publishing in Nebraska. Assorted zines—essentially DIY magazines produced by hand and/or photocopier—will be on display at the free event, and workshops will be offered to attendees.

OLD MARKET

M’s Pub fans had plenty to be thankful for in November following the announcement that the Old Market restaurant would rise from the ashes of the January 2016 fire that destroyed the iconic eatery. Various media quoted co-owner Ann Mellen saying the restaurant would reopen this summer. Construction has been steady at the restaurant’s 11th and Howard, four-story building, but customers weren’t sure M’s would be part of the rebirth until Mellen’s well-received comments. Mellen says the feel—and the food—will be the same. Even if the name may change.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Encounter.

Transitorily Yours

Photography by Amy Lynn Straub

Editor’s note: This is the first installment in a new Encounter column focusing on millennial life by Brent Crampton. To share your significant life experiences, email millennials@omahapublications.com

Today is Jan. 7, 2017, and yesterday I walked out of House of Loom one last time. It was a place that I co-owned, DJed at, and curated events for. The scene I left was only a shell. There were no swirling lights or sounds, no Victorian lounge vibes, and certainly no lively, booze-fueled conversations. Just an echo of the life that filled that place for 5 1/2 years remained (along with the bustle of a construction crew ripping a hole in the wood floor).

Loom was many things to many people, but to me it was a lovely little social experiment that blended cultures, creatives, and communities. Categorically, it was a nightclub and event venue, but to the folks frequenting its experiences, it was a place where patrons and friends could mobilize around causes, express emotions, mourn passings, and celebrate life’s contrasts.

The influx of people was so fluid that you could not distinguish it as a straight or gay bar, but simply as a people’s bar. On its best nights, it brought together folks who normally wouldn’t intersect in our city, and lifted us out of the doldrums of our daily lives.

It is rare for a business to shut down without the force of an unpaid bill. As a friend and fellow small business owner says, it is a gift to be able to close on your own terms. And that is exactly what we did. For myself and the other owners, House of Loom was never meant to be permanent. It was a successful social experiment. And it was time to move on.

I have spent the past 13 years of my life fervently dedicated to contributing to Omaha’s nightlife. With this new year, I embark on a new chapter—one where the loud and flashy peaks of club life are swapped for the quiet joy of watching my 1-year-old baby stand on her own for the first time. Now, spontaneous social gatherings are traded for intimate dinner parties (often planned months in advance). Instead of falling asleep as the sun rises, I wake up  with the sun.

It is a different life—one with its own advantages. My prior life could never hold a candle to this new world. In fact, as I write this, my baby daughter is napping away on my chest after a messy meal of liquified plums, apples, and carrots. She is tuckered out, and so am I.

This brings me to why I am writing this column. During this next chapter of my life, I will be taking some time to hibernate in the creative womb. The invitation to turn to the reflective act of writing seemed like a synchronistic opportunity. Instead of only sharing my notions of creativity and thought from behind a DJ booth, I will gladly be able to do so in this space.

Much like my life right now, I am going to ad-lib my writing. Most likely I will touch on topics ranging from the social impact of nightlife (of course), the curiosities of parenting (because I’m new at this), food (because I get giddy when I eat good food), and inclusiveness and equality (because of our new president), all through the millennial lens of a 30-something, post-nightclub-owning new papa.

Here’s to new beginnings.

Brent Crampton previously co-owned House of Loom and is co-owner of Berry & Rye, a bar in the Old Market. A multi-award-winning DJ in a former life, he now prefers evenings spent at home with his family.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Encounter.

Aloha Bluejays

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Creighton has long maintained a cross-cultural connection with Hawaii. The university considers the Central Pacific archipelago one of its top-10 recruiting states, and students from Hawaii have been flocking to this “Maui of the Midwest” for nearly a century.

The first Hawaiian student enrolled at Creighton University in 1924, long before the territory became a state (which eventually happened in 1959). Creighton started seeing increased Hawaiian enrollment after World War II in the 1940s, amid heightening racism toward people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent, says Associate Director of Admissions Joe Bezousek.

While resentment lingered from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and other U.S. military engagements in East Asia, Creighton intentionally rejected riding the wave of then-popular discrimination.

“Creighton has always followed the Jesuit value of being accepting and treating everyone with dignity and respect. So, Creighton kept our doors open and that was a big trigger moment,” Bezousek says.

Current students of Hawaiian heritage say the school does much to foster a culture of inclusion and supply resources necessary for Native and non-indigenous Hawaiians alike to continue being engaged with their culture while thousands of miles from home.

Ku‘uipo Lono is a student at Creighton and a participating member of Hui ‘O Hawai‘i, an on-campus Hawaiian organization. Lono’s favorite part of the Hawaiian club, and the centerpiece of the organization’s calendar, is the annual lu‘au.

According to Lono, lu‘au was first conceptualized in Hawaii as a celebration of life.

“Lu‘au was originally done for a baby’s first birthday,” Lono says. “When Western people came to Hawaii, they brought a lot of diseases with them, and so it was a big deal for a baby to live past one year.”

Today, the number of Native Hawaiians who continue on to post-secondary education remains low, Lono says, so leaving the island for college is a big deal. For Lono, leaving Hawaii was a matter of broadening her horizons, sharing Hawaiian culture, and in some ways, defending her traditional culture.

“There is a big controversial thing happening on the Big Island where the United States wants to build a big telescope on a mountain, and Native Hawaiians are protesting,” she says. “For some people, being Hawaiian is going up on the mountain and protesting—for others, being Hawaiian is getting an education and being part of the committee who decides whether or not to have the telescope built.”

Much like there is a distinction between Native Americans and non-indigenous American people born and raised in America, Lono says there is a cultural difference between Native Hawaiians and people who are simply from Hawaii. Creighton’s Hui ‘O Hawai‘i is inclusive of both groups.

“There are people who are not Hawaiian at all who participate,” Lono says. “A common thing you will hear people say is ‘I am Hawaiian at heart.’”

Sela Vili is a sophomore at Creighton. Although not of indigenous Hawaiian heritage, she is from Hawaii and played a lead role in a play performed at last year’s lu‘au. More than 1,000 people attended the 2016 event, which is inclusive to other Polynesian cultures, too, not just Hawaiian.

Vili says the celebration is different each year, and the food is always authentic.

“We have a food committee, and we bring down a chef from Hawaii,” Vili says. “I love the entertainment in the lu‘au. I love dancing in it, especially given that I have been dancing since the age of 5.”

Vili refers to the Hawaiian community on campus as her family away from home. She says Hawaii is very important to her, which drives a lot of her participation in the club.

“I want to be involved in the lu‘au so I can share my culture with everyone else,” Vili says. “It’s a way for me to keep in touch with home, and also a great way to meet other students that are from Hawaii.”

Hawaiian culture is based on the idea that you live off the land and work in the fields, Lono says, but going to college offers an opportunity for a different type of life. She admits there can be some resentment toward Westerners by Native Hawaiians, especially considering the legacy of colonization and forced acculturation.

“[I used to think] this is not fair. Why do we have to work to pay rent for land we already own,” Lono says. “My perspective changed when I came here. The same thing happened to the Mexicans and the Native Americans, and I think the best thing to do is not really accept it, but to learn about it, make a difference, and move forward from it.”

Lono is thankful for the opportunity to share her culture with the rest of Creighton’s diverse student population, and she praises the club’s approximately 250 members for caring enough about their culture to share with their peers and the general public of Omaha.

“Creighton recruits heavily from Hawaii, and it is nice having so many people from Hawaii so far away from home,” Lono says.

She laments the dearth of Hawaiian food in Omaha; however, the Hui ‘O Hawai‘i organization provides an essential group of friends who get together to cook authentic foods from home, in order to feel a little closer to the Aloha State—right here in Nebraska.

The 2017 Hui ‘O Hawai‘i Lu‘au takes place March 18 at Creighton University’s Kiewit Fitness Center. Doors open at 4 p.m., dinner begins at 5 p.m., and entertainment starts at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $20 general admission, $15 students, $12 children ages 4-12, free to ages 3 and under. Contact Lu‘au Chair Tiffany Lau at tiffanylau1@creighton.edu for more information.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.

W. Dale Clark Library: A Reflection of Omaha

February 21, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Why  are  libraries  relevant? For Rem Koolhaas, international architect and designer of one of America’s premier libraries in Seattle, “in an age where information can be accessed anywhere, it is the simultaneity of all media and, more importantly, the curatorship of their content that makes the library vital.”

This compelling principle of curation—a thoughtful way of organizing and presenting content—is how the Omaha Public Library’s W. Dale Clark branch promotes free public access to multimedia information, programming, and assets inside and outside the four walls of  215 S. 15th St. The library’s architecture, in turn, is both a container for, and reflection of, the community of Omaha at large.
Omaha’s first permanent public library opened in 1877 at 18th and Harney streets. Designed by Thomas Kimball, it was Omaha’s first building dedicated solely to a public library. However, with a capacity of 46,000 books and drastically out of sync with modern needs, the library outgrew this historic building after World War II. Often referred to as “the worst library in America” and “the horror on Harney Street,” city and library officials began contemplating a new building and the role a new central library would have in defining the cultural core of Omaha in the late 1950s.

While some branches of the Omaha Public Library system are named after locations, others are named after prominent city leaders and/or major funders. The central library branch is named after W. Dale Clark, a long-time banker, civic leader, and Omaha World-Herald board member. It is no coincidence then that during the development of this new central branch, the Omaha World-Herald was often a soapbox for the library’s necessity as a cultural anchor. A June 9, 1957, article explained, “a library should offer the opportunity for enlightened citizenship and the continuing education and cultural advancement necessary to a working democracy.” This sentiment held true for W. Dale Clark as well.

Although Clark did not live to see the completion of his library branch, which began construction in 1975, the 124,500-square-foot Bedford limestone monolith opened on March 9, 1977. Architects John Latenser & Sons of Omaha designed the $7 million open-plan building to accommodate 350 patrons and 400,000 volumes (the current collection is 500,000+ volumes). The Omaha World-Herald defined the opening as “the greatest event in Omaha’s history.”

Little has changed architecturally to the branch since 1977, although its surroundings continue to take shape—the neighborhood is part of a six-block $15 million revitalization plan.

The striated five-story W. Dale Clark Library opens laterally east and west and features a 110-foot bridge on the west entrance that spans a parking moat below for 48 cars, special facilities for audio-visual materials, a large open atrium, contemporary art gallery, and significant art collection including Catherine Ferguson’s sculpture Totem and an Olga de Amaral tapestry. The central library maintains practical roles to store government documents, house the ever-growing genealogy department, and to be a repository for community history.

In a building nearly 40 years old, how has the Omaha Public Library advanced into the digital age—an age where traditional media is seen as almost cliché? The answer is quite simple: curated in-person programing.

The facilitators for this community-driven programing are the 78 library staff at the W. Dale Clark branch. With a web of knowledge and resources, Emily Getzschman, the marketing manager for OPL acknowledges, “the staff are our greatest asset.” They fulfill the library’s tagline “open your world” by connecting dots—many of which are obvious (GED training, citizenship assistance, computer training, and literacy classes) and others that seem more disparate (STD screening, a toy lending library, speed dating, a culinary conference, and facilitated conversations around contemporary topics) all under a major OPL tenet of non-discrimination. As Amy Mather, adult services manager, says, “the library allows a smooth transition where a barrier may be to connect people with ideas.” In many instances, the library is filling voids in the public domain with this free niche programming—all of which is community driven.

Since its beginning, some have questioned the role and need for the Omaha Public Library—a story that continues to play out today. These opposing views undermine the very role of the public library as a space to define, beyond hierarchies, the community of Omaha.

It is a privilege and right to use the Omaha Public Library, which is free and open to all of the public. Everyone and anyone has access to its curated network of resources. The potency of programming, outreach, and staff reverberates beyond its architecture and stated mission placing OPL at the frontier of relevancy. As Mather says, “this is your library.”
omahapubliclibrary.org/w-dale-clark-library 

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Encounter.

Neighborhoods, USA

February 20, 2017 by
Photography by Provided

Chris Foster quickly developed a deep appreciation for his Gifford Park neighborhood after arriving in 1986. He joined its neighborhood association when it was launched a couple of years later and served as its president for a two-year stint that ended in 2001.

But it took a trip to Pittsburgh that year to trigger an epiphany. He realized what his midtown neighborhood could become.

On the trip, members of Omaha’s Planning Department and folks from various Omaha neighborhood associations traveled to the Steel City to attend that year’s “Neighborhoods, USA” national conference.

At the NUSA conference, hundreds of attendees passionate about improving neighborhoods and building stronger communities gather to swap ideas, participate in educational workshops, tour neighborhoods, and honor the innovative and life-changing work of neighborhood betterment projects.

And 2017 will see an exciting culmination of the efforts of city planners and Omaha neighborhood advocates like Foster—the 42nd annual NUSA conference is coming to Nebraska for the first time. The conference will be held at the Omaha Hilton Hotel and CenturyLink Center from May 24-27.

“NUSA coming to Omaha is a great training, educational resource, and networking opportunity for Omaha neighborhood leaders to learn about what’s going on in neighborhoods all around the country,” says Julie Smith, a conference organizer and neighborhood alliance specialist with ONE Omaha. “We will learn about programs other cities have and know that they face a lot of similar challenges, as well.”

A Fourth of July parade attracts residents in the Maple Village neighborhood.

Years in the Making

Discussions to bring NUSA to Omaha started six years ago, according to Norita Matt, a city planner who attended that 2001 conference with Foster. Years of planning led to Omaha’s presentation to NUSA leaders at the 2015 conference in Houston that landed the bid to host this year’s event.

“There is a lot that goes along with it; you have to have the mayor’s support and plenty of city support,” Matt says.

The Omaha conference will include local keynote speakers; dozens of local, national, and global workshops; awards for exceptional neighborhood betterment programs; local and national exhibitors; and a mayor’s reception.

The highlight of each conference, Matt says, are the Neighborhood Pride Tours during which attendees learn how neighborhoods use innovation and elbow grease to better their communities. More than 20 tours, including two in Council Bluffs, will focus on the rich history, unique designs, and revitalization of neighborhoods, she says. Tours are capped with receptions, local entertainment, and demonstrations of different cultures through music and dance.

“Going into the neighborhoods gives us a chance to hear about challenges and what people are doing to bring back the neighborhoods,” she says.

Gifford Park is one of many neighborhoods to participate in the city’s annual Spring Clean Up.

Two Omaha keynote speakers will highlight a key crucial neighborhood betterment effort. Jose Garcia and Terri Sanders will present their groups’ efforts to revitalize the 24th Street corridor, Omaha’s original “Street of Dreams,” connecting North and South Omaha, including the Fair Deal Village MarketPlace near 24th and Burdette streets.

Fostering a Better Community Life

For Foster of the Gifford Park association, NUSA coming to Omaha holds special significance because of his profound experience in Pittsburgh more than 15 years ago.  >

“I described it as a life-changing experience because I saw a presentation on inclusiveness involving community gardens,” Foster recalls, describing how he was “blown away” by a Seattle speaker who described the city’s network of community gardens.

Foster and others spent hours with the speaker at a local coffeehouse, and he then found himself doodling ideas about a vacant piece of land behind the Gifford Park home he shares with his wife, Sally.

Soon after, they were cleaning up the double-wide lot and purchasing the parcel for $4,000. Others joined in to transform the lot at 3416 Cass St. into the Gifford Park Community Garden. A youth gardening program soon followed.

A mural on North 30th Street emphasizes the history of the Florence neighborhood. Photo by Mele Mason.

A couple of years later, the garden expanded and an “adventure playground,” complete with a double-decker treehouse, was built as a way to build community ties among Gifford Park families and children.

Since then, a host of neighborhood activities and services have been developed, including a community bike shop and a free youth tennis program held each August at 33rd and Cass streets.

The conceptual seeds that revitalized Gifford Park’s community were planted at that NUSA conference years ago.

“NUSA provides me with some leadership development,” Foster says. “It gets people excited, invigorated, and motivated to want to take on projects in neighborhoods or work with the city and take on leadership roles. As volunteers, we have more effect on our neighborhoods than almost anything else. We’re the owners and stakeholders who can actually get it done.”

Visit nusa.org for more information.

The 42nd annual NUSA conference is coming to Nebraska for the first time. The conference will be held at the Omaha Hilton Hotel and CenturyLink Center from May 24-27.

A mural in Prospect Village celebrates the North Omaha neighborhood.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Omaha Home.

Omar Arts & Events

January 17, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Our customers are looking for a different type of venue,” says Mark O’Leary, executive director of Omar Arts and Events. “Something other than four white walls. Something with timeless craftsmanship and impeccable attention to detail.”

In other words, those seeking Old World charm and character intermingled with modern amenities will find what they’re looking for at Midtown Omaha’s newest arts and events facility. “We fill a niche,” O’Leary explains, “for those planning mid-size to large events.” Everything from weddings to trade shows to fundraising galas will benefit from perks like state-of-the-art A/V equipment, two screens with HD projection, free Wi-Fi, plenty of free parking, and enhanced security.

As a life-long Omahan, O’Leary knows what people in Omaha, particularly Midtown, are looking for. After all, his family’s been here since the 1880s. It’s no small wonder that he also owns The Cornerstone Mansion Inn, Omaha’s only historic inn, located in the Offutt mansion. The inn also serves as an event facility, giving O’Leary the experience event planners will find at the Omar.

Newly opened in November 2013, the Omar will be known quickly as the premier event facility in town, if O’Leary has any say in the matter. “We want to be secure in knowing that we are our customers’ first choice in event venues,” he says, “and that if they go elsewhere, it’s only because we were already booked.” His plan to keep clients coming back is by taking care of every detail and helping them to make their events as memorable and distinctive as possible.

No doubt he’ll be able to see to that, given that he’s a hands-on operator at the Omar. O’Leary’s passion for involvement is evident in his ongoing love and participation in theater. He produced and acted in the feature film For Love of Amy, directed by Ted Lange (Isaac from The Love Boat). For 10 years, he has served on the board of the John Beasley Theater and has produced and/or acted in more than 40 productions, including several national and local commercials.

His sense of timing and production will undoubtedly lead to your event putting its best foot forward at Omar Arts and Events.

Omar Arts & Events
4383 Nicholas St, Suite 230
Omaha 68131
402-905-9511
mark@omarbuilding.com
Executive Director/ Mark O’Leary

Restoring Hearts Celebration

October 4, 2013 by
Photography by Mitchell Warren

In the spring of 2013, young men and women from Omaha Home for Boys programs spent 18 weeks learning, laughing, and collaborating on the restoration of MishMash, the Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail motorcycle rebuilt as part of the nationally recognized Helping with Horsepower™ Bike Rebuild program. With the steadfast support of Jeremy and Mike Colchin, the father-son duo from Black Rose Machine Shop, MishMash was transformed into a stunningly patriotic motorcycle.

By late spring/early summer, MishMash was ready to travel around the state of Nebraska (and western Iowa) to spread the word about the Home and share a message of hope. MishMash heralded the Omaha Home for Boys mission and message at parades, fairs, football games, various community events, conferences, and concerts. One would be hard-pressed to find someone who hadn’t seen the motorcycle or heard about the youth at the Omaha Home for Boys and this life-changing project.

Several months later, the raffle winner of MishMash—Jeff Waddington of Bennington—was selected to the roaring applause of more than 450 Restoring Hearts with Bike Parts™ Celebration attendees. Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin delivered a breathtaking, inspirational speech to supporters, community members, and friends—some old, many new—of the Omaha Home for Boys.

RHBP3_2

Matlin touched on the difficulties of growing up as a young child “who just happened to be deaf” with big dreams of being a star—fueled and supported by long-time friend Henry Winkler. It was a message that resounded well with youth, staff, and supporters alike—you can be anything you want to be, and anyone can make their goals and dreams into realities with hard work and dedication.

Youth also took to the stage, joining Mike DiGiacomo and Mary Nelson, hosts of KMTV-Channel 3’s The Morning Blend, to share their thoughts of the Helping with Horsepower™ project, along with their own dreams and goals.

It was a celebration as much about MishMash as it was about the youth at the Home—and a celebration everyone involved will remember!

With the help of supporters, the Home raised more than $30,000 from the bike’s raffle, selling more than 1,700 tickets. Funds will be used to facilitate the programs at the Omaha Home for Boys—directly and positively impacting the hundreds of youth touched by our programs.

Become a Home Partner and Supporter

With the success of this year’s Restoring Hearts with Bike Parts Celebration, staff at the Omaha Home for Boys are in full gear to prepare for next year’s Helping with Horsepower Bike Rebuild program. Stay tuned for more information to become a sponsor, donate to the bike rebuild project, and buy tickets to attend next year’s Restoring Hearts with Bike Parts!

To become a sponsor for next year’s bike rebuild, please contact Trish at 402-457-7165 or PHaniszewski@omahahomeforboys.org. For more information about Omaha Home for Boys, visit omahahomeforboys.org.

Calendar of Events: September/October 2013

September 3, 2013 by

ART & MUSEUM EXHIBITS

A Bug’s World
Through September 8 at Omaha Children’s Museum, 500 S. 20th St.
A larger-than-life interactive exhibit that allows children to experience what it is like to be a bug. Tu-F/10am-4pm; Sat/9am-5pm; Sun/1pm-5pm. $9 adults & kids, $8 seniors, free for members and children 2 & under. 402-342-6164 – ocm.org

A T. Rex Named Sue
Through September 8 at Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.
Visit one of Chicago’s Field Museum’s traveling exhibitions, Sue, the largest, most complete, best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex in the world. M/10am-5pm; Tu/10am-8pm; W-Sat/10am-5pm; Sun/1-5pm. $9 adults, $7 seniors (62+), $6 ages 3-12, free for members and children 2 & under. 402-444-5071 – durhammuseum.org

Ron Parks at the Fred Simon Gallery
Through September 20 at Fred Simon Gallery, 1004 Farnam St.
Sculptor Ron Parks showcases this craftsmanship in this exhibition of contemporary Nebraska visual artists. M-F/8am-5pm. Free admission. 402-595-2142 – nebraskaartscouncil.org

Baseball at Boys Town
Through September 30 at Boys Town, 14100 Crawford St.
Highlights the history of baseball from 1917 to today at Boys Town and features autographed baseballs and memorabilia from Hall of Fame players Babe Ruth, Ozzie Smith, and Hank Aaron. Daily/10am-4pm. Free admission. 402-498-1186 – boystown.org

The Lorax
Through November 3 at Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St.
A showcase of selected Dr. Seuss preliminary crayon drawings and final pen and ink line art for this iconic book from the collection of the LBJ Presidential Library & Museum. Tu-W/10am-4pm; Th/10am-8pm; F-Sat/10am-4pm; Sun/12-4pm. Free admission. 402-342-3300 – joslyn.org

Featured artists Daharsh, Ocken, and Vande Voort
September 3-29 at Artists’ Cooperative Gallery Ltd., 405 S. 11th St.
New works by glassblower Frank Daharsh, painter Virginia Ocken, and painter Dar Vande Voort. Tu-Th/11am-5pm; F-Sat/11am-10pm; Sun/12-6pm. Free admission. 402-342-9617 – artistsco-opgallery.com

Rockbrook Village® 42nd Annual Art Fair
September 7-8 at Rockbrook Village Shopping Center, 108th & W. Center Rd.
Omaha’s premier art fair since 1971. Over 160 national, regional and local artists will display and sell their one-of-a-kind works of art. 10am-5pm. Free admission. 402-390-0890 – rockbrookvillage.com

Goose Bumps! The Science of Fear
September 28 – January 5 at Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.
Created by The California Science Center, Durham Museum presents the many sides of fear. Test yourself against four common fears. Observe how fear changes and learn simple ways to combat stress. Tu/10am-8pm; W-Sat/10am-5pm; Sun/1-5pm. $9 adults, $7 seniors (62+), $6 ages 3-12, free for members and children 2 & under. 402-444-5071 – durhammuseum.org

Legacy: The Emily Fisher Landau Collection
September 28 – January 5 at Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St.
A selection of paintings, sculptures, and works on paper from a historic gift pledged to the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2010 by Emily Fisher Landau. Her collection features some of the most influential artists of the 20th century, including Andy Warhol, Glenn Ligon, Sherrie Levine, Agnes Martin, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, John Baldessari, Kiki Smith, and Ed Ruscha. Tu-W/10am-4pm; Th/10am-8pm; F-Sat/10am-4pm; Sun/12-4pm. Free admission. 402-342-3300 – joslyn.org

Featured artists Johnston, Methot-Swanson, Stizman
October 1-27 at Artists’ Cooperative Gallery Ltd., 405 S. 11th St.
New works by painters Judith Anthony Johnston and Katrina Methot-Swanson, and sculptor Tom Sitzman. Tu-Th/11am-5pm; F-Sat/11am-10pm; Sun/12-6pm. Free admission. 402-342-9617 – artistsco-opgallery.com

Featured artists Akers, Fetter, Gaines
October 29 – November 24 at Artists’ Cooperative Gallery Ltd., 405 S. 11th St.
New works by mixed media artist Sean Akers, painter Joan Fetter, and weaver Agneta Gaines. Tu-Th/11am-5pm; F-Sat/11am-10pm; Sun/12-6pm. Free admission. 402-342-9617 – artistsco-opgallery.com

CONCERTS

End of the Summer Concert Series
Through September 27 at Midtown Crossing, 31st to 33rd, Farnam to Dodge sts.
A weekly concert series to end the summer, featuring Billy McGuigan and a joint concert with the Omaha Symphony and Opera Omaha. F/7:30pm. Free admission. 402-598-9676 – midtowncrossing.com

Hullabaloo Music & Camping Festival
September 5-8 at Sokol Park, 905 Allied Rd.
A celebration of music featuring live music from regional and national bands and DJs. Acts include the Aaron Freeman (former lead singer of Ween), Blackalicous, Monophonics, The Floozies, Kris Lager Band, Samantha Fish, DJEM, Lovedrunk, and much more! Food, drink and local vendors will be on hand. $20-80. 402-210-4747 – hullabaloomusicfestival.com

Scotty McCreery
September 13 at Stir Concert Cove, Harrah’s Casino, Council Bluffs, IA
Scott “Scotty” McCreery is an American country music singer from North Carolina and winner of the tenth season of American Idol. Doors open at 6pm; show at 8pm. $35 general admission. 712-329-6000 – harrahscouncilbluffs.com

Bret Michaels
September 20 at Stir Concert Cove, Harrah’s Casino, Council Bluffs, IA
Rock out the end of the summer with actor, director, screenwriter, producer, and reality television personality Bret Michaels, formerly of the band Poison. Doors open at 6pm; show at 8pm. $33 general admission. 712-329-6000 – harrahscouncilbluffs.com

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
October 10 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy gained national attention when “You & Me and the Bottle Makes Three (Tonight)” and “Go Daddy-O” were featured in the film Swingers. Their concerts feature big horns, wild jungle-jazz rhythms, zoot suits & dancing flapper girls. 7:30pm. 402-345-0202 – omahaperformingarts.org

Keith Urban – Light the Fuse Tour 2013
October 18 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St.
One of the industry’s most electrifying live performers, four-time Grammy Award winner and American Idol judge Keith Urban is bringing his “Light The Fuse Tour 2013” to Omaha. Special guests include: Little Big Town and Dustin Lynch. 7pm. $37-61.50. 402-341-1500 – centurylinkcenteromaha.com

Avenged Sevenfold with Deftones and Ghost B.C.
October 22 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St.
Avenged Sevenfold, a rock band known for their diverse rock sound and dramatic imagery in album covers and t-shirts, has toured all over the United Kingdom, as well as mainland Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. 8pm. $18.50-73. 402-341-1500 – centurylinkcenteromaha.com

World Blues: Taj Mahal and Vusi Mahlasela
October 25 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.
Grammy®-winning composer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Taj Mahal with ‘The Voice’ of South Africa Vusi Mahlasela. One of the most prominent figures in late 20th century blues and roots music, his music draws inspiration from virtually every corner of the world. 8pm. 402-345-0202 – omahaperformingarts.org

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
October 29 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St.
Premier hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis previously showcased their talents at The Waiting Room and Sokol Auditorium, but are now taking their music to Omaha’s main stage, CenturyLink Center Omaha. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis recently made Billboard history as the only duo to send their first two singles to No. 1 on both the Hot 100 and Top 40 Radio charts with new single “Can’t Hold Us” and breakout hit “Thrift Shop.” “Same Love,” a song and video in support of marriage equality, galvanized young fans and voters, and is certified a Gold single. 7:30pm. $29.50-82. 402-341-1500 – centurylinkcenteromaha.com

FAMILY EVENTS

Young Frankenstein – Forever Young Family & Children’s Film Series
Through September 12 at Film Streams, 1340 Mike Fahey St.
With support from the Lincoln Financial Foundation, Film Streams presents Forever Young Family & Children’s Film Series – Summer 2013 with Mel Brooks’ infamous Young Frankenstein. See website for showtimes. $9 general, $7 seniors, students, teachers, military, bike-friendly, $4.50 members, $2.50 12 & under. 402-933-0259 – filmstreams.org

Dinosaurs Alive: The Lost Valley
Through October 13 at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, 3701 S. 10th St.
Animatronic dinosaurs intermingled with other animals transports the zoo back 65 million years to when these prehistoric beasts roamed the planet. Daily/9am-5pm. $4 with regular paid zoo admission. 402-733-8401 – omahazoo.com

Knuffle Bunny
September 6-22 at The Rose Theater, 2001 Farnam St.
Enjoy a hilarious musical version of the beloved Caldecott Honor book and get your family giggling. $18 general admission, free for members. F/7pm; Sat/2 & 5pm; Sun/2pm. 402-345-4849 – rosetheater.org

Forbidden Planet – Forever Young Family & Children’s Film Series
September 14-26 at Film Streams, 1340 Mike Fahey St.
With support from the Lincoln Financial Foundation, Film Streams presents Forever Young Family & Children’s Film Series – Summer 2013 with the Oscar-nominated Forbidden Planet. See website for showtimes. $9 general, $7 seniors, students, teachers, military, bike-friendly, $4.50 members, $2.50 12 & under. 402-933-0259 – filmstreams.org

Family Fiesta at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium
September 22 at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, 3701 S. 10th St.
A fiesta for the whole family featuring soccer mascots, a live mariachi band, face painting, and more. 12-5pm. Free with regular paid zoo admission. 402-733-8401 – omahazoo.com

ARTsarben
September 28-29 at Aksarben Village, 67th and Center Sts.
Bring the whole family for fun, games, good food, live music, face painting, KidZone with bouncy houses, and most importantly the ART! Sat/10am-7pm; Sun/10am-4pm. Free admission. 402-345-5401 – artsarben.com

MathAlive!
September 28 – January 5 at Strategic Air & Space Museum, 28210 W. Park Hwy
Exhibit that brings to life the real math behind what kids love most—video games, sports, fashion, music, robotics, and more—and creates interactive and immersive experiences. Daily/10am-5pm. $12 adults, $11 seniors & active/retired military, $6 ages 4-12. 402-944-3100 – sasmuseum.com

Robin Hood
October 11-27 at The Rose Theater, 2001 Farnam St.
The legendary tale bursts into fresh & fiery new life in this unique, fast-paced adaptation. Robin Hood stands up for justice as he cleverly evades the Sheriff of Nottingham. Be enchanted as a band of merry men (and women) bring familiar characters to life in surprising new ways. F/7pm; Sat/2 & 5pm; Sun/2pm. $18 general admission, free for members. 402-345-4849 – rosetheater.org

Spooktacular at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium
October 18 at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, 3701 S. 10th St.
Bring your little ghouls and goblins to this safe and fun Halloween event. 5:30-8:30pm. $8 with regular paid zoo admission. 402-733-8401 – omahazoo.com

FUNDRAISERS & GALAS

Zoofari 2013
September 7 at Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, 3701 S. 10th St.
Fundraiser supporting the Omaha Zoo Foundation with a trunk show, dinner, live and silent auctions. 402-738-2073 – omahazoofoundation.org

Touch a Truck
September 7 at First Data, 6855 Pacific St.
Free family event with trucks, police cars, and firetrucks supporting Child Saving Institute. 11am. 402-504-3664 – childsaving.org

36th Annual Archbishop’s Dinner for Education
September 12 at Embassy Suites La Vista, 12520 Westport Pkwy.
Dinner recognizing teachers and administrators in the Archdiocese of Omaha schools. 402-827-3757 – archomaha.org

7th Annual Brew HaHa
September 12 at Stinson Park at Aksarben Village, 2285 S. 67th St.
Beer and food sampling event supporting Omaha Habitat for Humanity. 5pm. 402-884-4370 – habitatomaha.org

6th Annual Wine and Beer Event
September 12 at The Shops of Legacy, 168th & Center sts.
Support ALS in the Heartland by drinking, stolling, and shopping. 6pm. 402-592-2374 – alsintheheartland.org

Global Voices: Faith in Action
September 15 at Embassy Suites La Vista, 12520 Westport Pkwy.
Event recognizing faith-based community leaders and supporting Lutheran Family Services. 402-978-5646 – lfsneb.com

Cruisin’ for a Cure Omaha 2013
September 15 at Methodist Hospital Parking Lots, 8601 W. Dodge Rd.
Auto show and free prostate screenings with proceeds benefiting The Estabrook Cancer Center at Methodist Hospital. cruisinforacure.com

Big Red Tailgate
September 20 at Embassy Suites La Vista, 12520 Westport Pkwy.
Enjoy cocktails, a silent auction, and dinner with Completely KIDS. 5:30pm. 402-397-5809 completelykids.org or call 402-397-5809 – completelykids.org

Spotlight Gala
September 21 at Embassy Suites La Vista, 12520 Westport Pkwy.
Annual fundraiser for Voices for Children with cocktails, food, and more. 5:30pm. 402-597-3100 – voicesforchildren.com

Our Lady of Lourdes Annual Fall Festival
September 22 at Our Lady of Lourdes, 2110 S. 32nd Ave.
Fundraising festival with games, food, and more. 12pm. 402-341-5604 – ollomaha.com

Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes 2013
September 22 at Stinson Park at Aksarben Village, 2285 S. 67th St.
A fundraising walk supporting the American Diabetes Association. 402-571-1101 – diabetes.org

Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day 2013
September 26 at Anthony’s Steakhouse Ballroom & Patio, 7220 F St.
Fundraising event for Project Harmony with live Irish music and prizes. 402-595-1326 – projectharmony.com 

Omaha Signature Chefs Auction
September 26 at Embassy Suites La Vista, 12520 Westport Pkwy.
Signature dishes by 20 chefs, a raffle, and a live auction, supporting March of Dimes Nebraska. 5:30pm. 402-496-7111 – marchofdimes.com

Restoring Hearts with Bike Parts Event
September 26 at Hilton Omaha, 1001 Cass St.
Omaha Home for Boys gala featuring a motorcycle raffle and special guest Marlee Matlin. 5:30pm. 402-457-7000 – omahahomeforboys.org

Jewels of Autumn
September 28 at Alegent Creighton Health Lakeside Hospital, 16901 Lakeside Hills Ct.
Annual fundraiser with food, drinks, and auctions. 6pm. 402-717-8182 – alegentcreighton.com

Walk for the Animals 2013
September 29 at Nebraska Humane Society, 8929 Fort St.
Fundraising walk with pets. 8:30am. 402-444-7800 – nehumanesociety.org

Walk to End Alzheimer’s 2013
September 29 at Turner Park at Midtown Crossing, 3220 Farnam St.
Fundraising walk for Alzheimer’s Association. 12pm. 402-502-4301 – alz.org

43rd Annual Boy Scout Golf Invitational
September 30 at Shadow Ridge Country Club, 1501 S. 188th Plz.
Golf event for Boy Scouts of America, Mid-America Council. 11am. 402-514-3011 – mac-bsa.org

50th Anniversary Celebration
October 4 at Embassy Suites La Vista, 12520 Westport Pkwy.
Inaugural fundraising event supporting Legal Aid of Nebraska. 5:30pm. 402-348-1069 – legalaidofnebraska.com

Holy Name Harvest
October 4 at Holy Name School, 2901 Fontenelle Blvd.
Dinner, raffle, and silent and live auctions. 5:30pm. 402-451-6622 – holynameschoolomaha.org

Expressions of Hope Gala
October 4 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St.
Dinner, youth program, and silent and live auctions supporting Hope Center for Kids. 402-341-4673 – hopecenterforkids.com

Good Apple Awards
October 10 at Historic Livestock Exchange Building, 4920 S. 30th St.
Live music, cocktails, and Nebraska Appleseed community justice awards. 6pm. 402-438-8853 – neappleseed.com

HomeGrown
October 10 at Brix at Village Pointe, 225 N. 170th St.
Local wine and beer tasting supporting Nebraska Children’s Home Society. 4pm. 402-451-0787 – nchs.org

Hops & Grapes Fall Festival
October 11 at Field Club of Omaha, 3615 Woolworth Ave.
Partnership 4 Kids’ wine and beer tasting event. 7pm. 402-930-3002 – p4k.org

7th Annual Comfort Food Classic
October 13 at Ramada Omaha, 3321 S. 72nd St.
Chef competition supporting Ted E. Bear Hollow. 5pm. 402-502-2773 – tedebearhollow.org

117th Ak-Sar-Ben Coronation & Scholarship Ball
October 19 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St.
Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Foundation’s annual scholarship ball. 402-554-9600 – aksarben.org

Ladle of Love Festival
October 20 at Open Door Mission’s Garland Thompson Men’s Center, 2705 N. 20th St.
Soups and baked goods served by local chefs, supporting Open Door Mission. 1pm. 402-829-1508 – opendoormission.org

Scholarship Luncheon
October 22 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St.
Phoenix Academy luncheon with guest speaker, former First Lady Laura Bush. 11:30am. 402-390-0556 – phoenixacademyomaha.org

6th Annual Monster Bash for Brain Cancer
October 24 at Georgetown Club, 2440 S. 141st Cir.
Live music, kids activities, food, and more, supporting Leap-for-a-Cure. 6:30pm. 402-333-9370 – leapforacure.org

Fall Luncheon 2013
October 24 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St.
Women’s Fund of Omaha event with keynote speaker Betsy Myers. 11:30am. 402-827-9280 – omahawomensfund.org

Centennial Gala
October 24 at Mutual of Omaha Dome, 3300 Dodge St.
MOSAIC event featuring keynote speaker Timothy P. Shriver, Ph.D. 6pm. 402-896-9988 – mosaicinfo.org

RECREATION

Septemberfest
Through September 2 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St.
Featuring live bands, Spider-Man, princesses, balloon artists, magicians, Omaha Roller Girls vs. North Dakota’s Roller Derby Team, BBQ & Ribeye Steak Cookoff, Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament, and more. F/5pm-12am; Sat/12-4pm; Sun-M/12pm-12am. $4 adults, free for children 5 & under. 402-341-1500 – septemberfestomaha.com

Florence Mill Farmers Market
Through September 29 at Florence Mill, 9102 N. 30th St.
A local farmers market featuring fresh, local produce, artisans and live music every Sunday afternoon. Sun/10am-3pm. Free admission. 402-551-1233 – historicflorence.org

River City Star Friday Evening Public Dinner Cruise
Through October 4 at River City Star Riverboat, 151 Freedom Park Rd.
Spend an evening on the Missouri River while enjoying live entertainment on this 1.5 hour, two entree dinner cruise. F/6:30-8pm. $42 adults, $38 seniors (65+), $21 children 12 & under. 402-342-7827 – rivercitystar.com

Omaha Restaurant Week
September 13-22 at participating Omaha restaurants
Grab your forks and knives and arrive with an empty stomach for Omaha Restaurant Week, a 10-day promotion celebrating the unique, exciting culinary scene in the Omaha metro. During this festival of food, participating restaurants offer an exclusive specials menu featuring multi-course dinners at a fixed price of either $20, $30, or $40 per person. 402-850-6776 – omaharestaurantweek.com

Street of Dreams
September 14-29 at Deer Creek, 120th and Deer Creek Dr.
Tour upscale, custom dream homes while gathering cutting edge design ideas from a variety of Omaha’s Best Custom Builders. W-Sun/12-8pm. $10 adults. 402-727-1054 – streetofdreams.org

Midtown Car Show
September 15 at Midtown Crossing, 31st-33rd and Dodge-Farnam sts.
Check out some of the area’s most fabulous rides: vintage cars and trucks, project cars, hot rods, and more. 10am-2pm. Free admission. 402-351-5964 – midtowncrossing.com

Oktoberfest
September 20-21 at German-American Society Inc., 3717 S. 120th St.
Omaha’s oldest and largest Oktoberfest celebration. Enjoy great authentic foods, including schnitzel, German potato salad, sauerkraut, German tortes, a few hogs and dozens of chickens, plus authentic music for dancing. F/5pm-12am; Sat/12pm-12am. $3 Saturday admission, $4 Sunday admission. 402-333-6615 – germanamericansociety.org

2013 Loess Hills Wine Festival
September 21 at River’s Edge Park, Council Bluffs, IA.
A celebration of the Grape Harvest with a fun day of entertainment. Admission includes live music by Pink Kadillac, a souvenir wine glass, five tickets that may be used for wine tastings, grape stomp, hayride, and more. 3-10pm. $10-50. weigga.org

22nd Annual Fort Omaha Intertribal Powwow
September 22 at Metropolitan Community College, 5730 N. 30th St.
A traditional intertribal powwow featuring Native American music, dancing, crafts, and food. A family friendly event that explores the culture and traditions of Native Americans. 1-7pm. Free admission. 402-457-2253 – mccneb.edu

Lauritzen Gardens Antique & Garden Show
September 26-29 at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St.
This year, the Antique & Garden Show is celebrating its 10th anniversary. To commemorate, Harrison Howard, a California artist, was commissioned to provide several one-of-a-kind pieces of art for the show. His piece, Spring, is an exclusive for Lauritzen Gardens. Lecturers this year are Carolyne Roehm, Kathryn Ireland, Eddie Ross, and Danielle Rollins. F-Sat/10am; Sun/11am. $15 general admission, $75 luncheon lectures, $125 preview party. 402-346-4002 – lauritzengardens.org

Ak-Sar-Ben’s River City Rodeo & Stock Show
September 26-29 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St.
A celebration of the region’s western heritage, featuring the Justin Boots Championships Rodeo, the Ak-Sar-Ben 4-H Stock Show, and the Douglas County Fair. Tu-F/10am-7pm; Sat/9am-7pm; Sun/9am-4pm. Free admission, except rodeo and other selected events. 402-554-9600 – rivercityrodeo.com

Just for Her Expo
October 11-13 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St.
Shop boutiques, test products and services, and more at this special event just for women in Omaha. F/5-10pm; Sat/10am-6pm; Sun/11am-4pm. justforherexpoomaha.com

25th Annual Fall Home and Garden Expo
October 25-27 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St.
The largest showcase in Nebraska and Iowa with over 100,000 sq. ft. of the latest products and services for the home – inside and out. F/5-9pm; Sat/10am-7pm; Sun/12-5pm. 402-346-8003 – showofficeonline.com

RUNS

Up & Over the River Walk & Run
September 1 at Miller’s Landing, 151 Freedom Park Rd.
An 8K run and walk that leads participants along the riverfront paths and over the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge to Iowa and back. 8:30am. $30 runners, $25 walkers. 402-346-4800 – septemberfestomaha.com

HITS 38th Annual Omaha Marathon
September 22 at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, 1200 Mike Fahey St.
Listen to live music as you run by the TD Ameritrade Stadium, the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo, Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, and through the Old Market. 7am. $80 marathon, $65 half-marathon, $45 10K. 402-546-1800 – omahamarathon.com

SPORTS

Visit Omaha 2013 Women’s Norceca Championship
September 16-21 at Ralston Arena, 7300 Q St.
Watch 10 teams from the North America, Central America and Caribbean region compete in this 6-day event. See the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team, a 2-time Olympic silver medalist, defend their title as the current NORCECA Women’s Continental Champion. 402-934-6291 – ralstonarena.com

THEATRE

Other Desert Cities
Through September 15 at SNAP! Productions, 3225 California St.
This Pulitzer Prize-nominated play explores the relationships of a family with differing political views and a tragic family secret that is threatened to be exposed. 402-341-2757 – snapproductions.com

Sirens
Through September 15 at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St.
This play follows the story of Sam, a one-hit-wonder songwriter, whose marriage with his wife of 25 years is stifled by his obsession with finding the next big hit. When he encounters a siren from Greek mythology out at sea, she helps him realize Rose was always the love of his life. Th-Sat/7:30pm; Sun/2pm. $35 adults, $21 students. 402-553-0800 – omahaplayhouse.com

Bollywood and Beyond
Through October 3 at Film Streams, 1340 Mike Fahey St.
A comprehensive overview of India’s prolific filmmaking traditions that presents 10 classics from a given era of Bollywood—Mumbai-made, Hindi-language films. See website for showtimes and admission. 402-933-0259 – filmstreams.org

Les Misérables
September 20 – October 27 at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St.
The world’s longest running and most loved musical. Set in 19th Century France, Les Mis is the epic tale of Jean Valjean as he breaks his parole and is pursued by Inspector Javert while caring for the young orphaned Cosette. W-Sat/7:30pm; Sun/2pm. 402-553-0800 – omahaplayhouse.com

The Book of Mormon
October 12-20 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St.
The critically acclaimed and Tony® Award-winning religious satire musical, The Book of Mormon, is coming to Omaha for a nine-day run. The New York Times calls it “the best musical of this century,” and Entertainment Weekly proclaims it as “the funniest musical of all time.” Tu-W/7:30pm; F-Sat/8pm; Sun/1:30pm & 7pm. $50-140. 402-345-0606 – omahaperformingarts.com

Freud’s Last Session
October 18 – November 17 at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St.
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Allie Baxter

August 29, 2013 by
Photography by Allie Baxter, The Salvation Army, and Prudential

Since she was a little girl, Alexandra ‘Allie’ Baxter could be heard ringing bells next to The Salvation Army’s iconic red kettles during the holiday season, taking donations for those in need. Now, her relationship with the signature red kettle takes on new meaning as the founder of the Red Kettle 5K Run.

Baxter, a recent graduate of Millard North High School who will be attending Northwestern University in the fall, started the fall charity event in 2010. Assigned to come up with a project for school, Baxter turned an idea for a charity event into a full-fledged business proposal, which she pitched to The Salvation Army. The inception of a run as a charity event, however, happened earlier that year while partaking in her favorite hobby.

“I was running another 5K charity event, and I noticed there were tons and tons of people there. And I thought to myself with that many people, you can really spread a message to lots of different people but also bring in lots of money and food,” Baxter says.

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The 5K run takes place at Lake Zorinsky and asks that participants pay a $10 or 10-food-item entrance fee. This year’s run will take place on Oct. 12. While the format of the run has not changed in its three years, fund- and food-raising efforts have skyrocketed. The first year brought in 16,000 food items for The Salvation Army, while last year garnered 45,000 items.

“Since we do a low-cost, high-benefit event, where we put in as little as we can to get the most out of it, whatever we bring in goes straight to the pantries and is immediately helpful,” Baxter says. “There seems to be an increasing need every year with the financial situations as they are. More people need the help and they all need it at the same time, especially going into the winter season.”

Omaha is not the only city where Baxter’s influence runs deep. The Salvation Army has started Red Kettle 5K Runs in major cities like Chicago and St. Louis.

“We’re trying to maintain a blueprint for the event. In Des Moines, they don’t need food because someone else helps them, so they bring in toiletry items. It adapts to what you need, and that’s what’s great about it,” she says.

For her efforts, Baxter received The Prudential Spirit of Community Award this past spring. The award, created in 1995, recognizes young people for their outstanding volunteer service. Baxter traveled to Washington, D.C., to receive her award, meeting Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey along the way.

Allie Baxter meeting actor Kevin Spacey at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in May.

Allie Baxter meeting actor Kevin Spacey at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in May.

“[The recipients] were put into groups, and we all were able to present our projects and hear what other people thought of them. I like hearing feedback from other people and learning how I can improve what I’ve started,” Baxter says.

Baxter is uncertain what her future holds for her at Northwestern, but she admits that through working with The Salvation Army, the business world has piqued her interest. Whatever she decides to do, she wants to continue working with The Salvation Army in Chicago and help combat hunger.

“There is this divide where people don’t realize there is a need, that there are people going hungry, there are people without homes. There’s a nonattachment between teens and what’s actually happening,” Baxter explains. “Hunger and homelessness are issues that are tough to fix. And when they are hard to fix, it makes people give up trying.”

Allie Baxter is one person who refuses to give up.