February 23, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Bow. Wow. Holy cow.

2018 is a major milestone for Omaha Magazine. The current issue marks the first edition in our 36th volume—the completion of 35 years of local magazine publishing. 

Publisher Todd Lemke started in local magazine publishing with City Slicker in March 1983. After City Slicker, he merged with Our City Magazine. When he realized the copyright for Omaha Magazine had become available, he snapped up the brand. Omaha Magazine has been his flagship publication ever since. However, that doesn’t mean it’s his only title. Omaha Magazine staff (and the website
omahamagazine.com) produce a host of titles that include Encounter, B2B Magazine, Family Guide, OmahaHome, and many more that have come and gone over the years.

2018 is also Year of the Dog in the Chinese zodiac. The lunar zodiac features a 12-year cycle with 12 corresponding animals. Legend has it that the animals are ordered according to their finish in a mythological race across a river. Rat finished first because he rode on top of Ox’s head and jumped onto the opposite shore (followed by Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig). 

The Lunar New year officially began on Friday, Feb. 16. Traditionally, the holiday is the year’s most important occasion for Chinese families all over the world. It’s like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter all rolled together. After celebrating the occasion with loved ones, many Chinese families residing in the Omaha metro will celebrate again on March 3 with the Nebraska Chinese Association’s Lunar New Year Gala at Burke High School. More than 30 percent of the attendance, organizers say, comes from local folks who are not Chinese.

Everyone is welcome. But tickets must be purchased in advance. Find out more details in this issue’s Calendar of Events. The occasion is the 10th consecutive Lunar New Year gala hosted by the Nebraska Chinese Association (formerly the Omaha Chinese Culture Association).

But of course, the local Chinese community dates back much longer than 10 years. There has been a Chinese demographic segment of Omaha’s population since the mid-1800s. The March/April issue of Omaha Magazine explores that history with a series of connected stories that probe the forgotten history of Omaha’s Chinatown, a Chinese community timeline leading up to today, and the story of two buildings that provide a tangible link to the past: King Fong Cafe (currently under renovation) and the last site of the local branch of the On Leong Tong (recognized in late 2017 on the National Register of Historic Places).

This in-depth package of stories on Omaha’s Chinese community is also special for me on a personal level. I lived in the Chinese territory of Hong Kong for five years, and my wife is Chinese from the former British colony. Our daughter was born in Omaha in 2017 (the Year of the Chicken), and her biracial heritage means that the ongoing story of Omaha’s Chinese-American narrative is our story, too. 

I was born in Omaha (in the Year of the Ox) and I can trace my American lineage back through generations of immigrants to North America since before the American Revolutionary War. Although my wife is a more recent immigrant, our daughter is nothing but American. She has the exact same birthright that I enjoy, as outlined in the U.S. Constitution. 

It is my hope that she—and anyone else with ties to Omaha’s Chinese community, or anyone simply interested in the history of our city—finds this issue to be a keepsake addition to the family library.

Of course, this edition also offers all the great arts and culture stories, dining features, profiles, and so much more that our readers have come to expect. Every issue of Omaha Magazine is a unique record of a point in time for our shared city. In recent years, the company has embraced the motto, “It’s about all of us.” This is truly our mission. Follow us on social media (@omahamagazine on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) for updates, and subscribe to the magazine at omahamagazine.com/subscribe.

Thanks for reading!

Doug Meigs is the executive editor of Omaha Publications.

This letter was printed in the March/April 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.