We all know someone who’s lost their job in the last month, right? And, perhaps you’re like me, and want to offer more than just the suggestion that they file unemployment and read the Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s huge Crisis Response Resource page. There is a way you can help people laid off from popular Omaha restaurants and stores – donate to a fund (donate money and/or time).
Below you’ll find neighborhood funds set up for the following parts of Omaha: Dundee, Blackstone, and Gifford Park & Joslyn Castle neighborhoods. I’d love to add more, so if you know of another fund set up, please let me know!
Both part-time and full-time employees who’ve been laid off will receive $100 checks every two weeks to unemployed people.
One of my favorite restaurants, Mark’s Bistro, had to lay off 40 people.
Many restaurants in Dundee are still open, as are some shops (to a certain degree). Here’s a list of all Dundee businesses, with phone numbers so you can call in an order for food or maybe other items.
Blackstone District fund for the service industry
The Blackstone District Association has set up a similar fund to provide association member employees in the service industry up to $1,000 every 30 days. You can donate through PayPal to contribute to the fund.
Blackstone has some of the best restaurants in Omaha, as well as bars and Coneflower Creamery. Most are still open to some degree, so you can still order take-out and delivery.
There are a lot of business associations out there, and while they didn’t have funds set up at the time of writing this post, they may eventually change. Here’s where you can find the latest updates on some of these associations (these are their Facebook pages, which seem to be updated more frequently than their websites):
Some of the associations have drives going for food, books, supplies, etc., so if you live in one of the neighborhoods above, go ahead and check out the Facebook page to see how you can help your neighbors. The association in North Omaha was particularly active!
More ways to help Omaha businesses
I want to make sure the small businesses in Omaha survive this crisis, so I created a list of 20+ ways you can help Omaha right now. The list includes locally-owned businesses and nonprofits like:
– Shops where you can order toys, puzzles, games, gardening supplies, and clothes online or by phone and pick-up curbside.
– Restaurants and bars that have take-out, curbside pick-up, and delivery.
The joke going around about the global pandemic is that our grandparents were called to serve in the war and we’ve been called to sit on our couch. But, being stuck at home leaves me feeling a bit helpless. And I wonder, How can I really help? This morning, my husband had a great idea to start a fundraiser, “because we all wish we could do something to help.” And that got me thinking – there are so many businesses, people, and nonprofits in Omaha that need are help. How can we help?
And, so, this post was born. If you wish there was a way you could help the Omaha community, here’s a proactive guide to helping your Omaha friends and neighbors:
How to support Omaha stores
Oh, I know. It’s tempting to go to Amazon or Target to get everything delivered for free. But you can find most things you need locally, keeping the money local and businesses open.
What are you wanting to buy that you can buy locally?
Games – You can browse the game inventory of Spielbound and purchase online. You can opt for free curbside pick-up or get it delivered. I tried the pick-up option, and it was super easy. You can also order coffee drinks to-go and six-packs with your game order.
Puzzles, games, geeky stuff – City Limits in the Old Market is open and full of the funniest, weirdest stuff you didn’t even know you need. Head to their Facebook page to see some videos of what they have in stock, then call them to place in your order, and they’ll bring it out to the curb for you.
Toys – Fat Brain Toys’ storefront is closed but you can still order awesome kids’ toys and games online at FatBrainToys.com. And even better, order it by 3 p.m. and they’ll ship it the same day to your own doorstep.
Omaha Children’s Museum has opened a virtual museum gift shop where you can purchase themed gift bags for kids. They’ll be available for curbside pick-up on select days.
Garden supplies – This dreary weather is going to end soon and before you know it, it will be spring gardening time. Mulhall’s has devised a gardening to-go plan for customers to order online and then pick-up your items (they’ll put it in your car for you).
Candy – Already planning Easter baskets? Or are you just stressed out parent who needs chocolate? You can order candy to-go from Hollywood Candy. Chocolat Abeille has to-die-for chocolate creations just in time for Easter. You can order online for pick-up.
Clothing – The Four Sisters Boutique storefront is closed but you are still able to order clothes online to pick-up (and even try on before getting them). Gramercy offers local delivery, curbside pickup, and shipping options. A few Regency Court retailers also have some creative ways for getting you your goods.
Books – Books are getting me and my family through these long days at home (after homeschool stuff is finished, of course). The Bookworm has an online store set up, though you can still get curb-side delivery and home delivery within zip codes 68106, 68114, 68124, 68132, 68144, and 68154.
Urban Abbey in the Old Market also has curbside pick-up. Just call ahead to order your books and/or coffee drinks.
Interior decorating – Spruce Interiors & Gifts now offers curbside pickup. In addition to interior design items, there are cute items to gift to a friend (or yourself).
How to support Omaha restaurants and bars
Some Omaha restaurants and bakeries have closed temporarily to weather this pandemic, but many have found ways to stay open and serve customers. So, the obvious way you can help is to continue to be patrons at your favorite restaurants…only do it safely (eating at home seems to be the way to go).
Blackstone Business Association has set up a fund to distribute monthly support to service industry members in the neighborhood who’ve been affected by business closures or layoffs. If you love restaurants like Stirnella, Butterfish, Mula, Coneflower Creamery — wow, there are so many great places in that neighborhood — then consider donating to the fund.
Love the bakeries and shops at Countryside Village? Check out the neighborhood’s Facebook page for updates on individual restaurants and bakeries that offer frozen food to-go, take-out, and more. Restaurants include Le Quartier Bakery Co., Camille’s Bakery, Swartz’s Deli, and Timber Wood Fire Bistro.
My tip: Don’t forget you can buy gift cards from restaurants and save them for dining out once it’s safe to do so!
How to support Omaha nonprofits
As many of you know, my day job is at a nonprofit, so this is a biggie for me. There are dozens of nonprofits that have had to suspend operations, events, fundraisers, etc. in March. ShareOmaha has a fantastic list of nonprofits that have been impacted and how you can help. It’s not just how to help financially, either.
– Renew your memberships to the places that are important to you. I’m talking about places like Omaha Children’s Museum, The Durham Museum, Joslyn Art Museum and the like. If you buy or renew your membership to Fontenelle Forest, you can get access to the trails even while they’re temporarily closed to the general public!
– Donate to causes that resonate with you – be it art, animals, literary, history, food scarcity, or children.
– And if you have the means, donate without restrictions so nonprofits can apply the funds where they need them most.
So what sort of things can you help with? Here’s a few ways I found on the ShareOmaha site:
– Food insecure Omaha neighbors through organization like Abide, Catholic Charities, Food Bank of the Heartland, New Visions Homeless Services, Salvation Army and more.
– Donate cleaning supplies to youth shelters via Child Saving Institute, MICAH House, Open Door Mission, Stephen Center, and more.
– Support seniors whose families can’t visit them by sending them puzzles, craft supplies and more at Florence Home. I’m sure there are others.
– Volunteer. Places that need volunteers include Big Brothers Big Sisters, Heartland Hope Mission, Keep Omaha Beautiful, NorthStar Foundation, The 712 Initiative and many more.
– Have a talent for online shopping (don’t we all?). Some organizations have set up Amazon lists including Down Syndrome Alliance, Hope Center For Kids, Siena Francis House and more
How to help seniors in Omaha
AARP has Mutual Aid Groups that you can join. These groups are informal groups of volunteers who help pick up groceries, provide financial assistance, or lend emotional support to neighbors. You can look up local groups or start one.
Feed your creativity with Omaha crafts
Omaha craft stores and creative spaces are, well, creative, so they’ve found ways for you to stay crafty at home.
The Makery sells activity kits for kids and adults, like painting and string art. They range from about $12-$34 and include almost everything you need (find your own hammers). You will have to call in your order and pick it up, curbside!
It’s Yours Pottery in West Omaha offers Creativity To-Go Kits that can be ordered online. The kits include pottery selection(s), glaze colors (up to five) paint brushes, and an instruction sheet. You can call the studio when you arrive for curbside pickup.
Send a gift from Omaha businesses
Since social distancing is the buzz phrase of the month, we can’t visit our friends and loved ones like we want to. So, we can send them our love in the mail or with a special local delivery.
Hardy Coffee Co. has set up one sweet package: Homemade cinnamon roll delivered with a bag of coffee.
Urban Abbey is selling care packages that can be delivered locally for $5. Packages are themed and include Easter, Mega Mom, and Girl Power.
Watch movies at home while still supporting your local movie art house
Netflix, you guys. I’m getting a little tired of it. Luckily, Film Streams has come up with a solution for film buffs: They’re offering home movies of the indie film variety. Purchase virtual tickets to stream at home and get more information at filmstreams.org.
How to support the businesses that will be impacted by CWS & Swim Trial cancellations
Can you imagine having the majority of your profits earned in a small window each summer? That’s how many businesses near TD Ameritrade Park and the CHI Health Center Omaha operate. So, the restaurants and stores in NoDo, Capitol District and the Old Market are all facing a rough year financially without all the tourist dollars coming in.
Want to make sure these districts continue to thrive?
NoDo has a mix of restaurants, a brewery, and businesses that need continued support. Slowdown shared a list of their NoDo neighbors that could use your business.
The Capitol District is full of restaurants. Here are the restaurants that are offering carry-out.
Here’s a list of Old Market businesses that are open and what services they continue to offer (and when).
How to support local farmers
Just a quick drive outside of Omaha and you’ll find a lot of farms, as well as CSAs to sign up for. Here are a few to consider: Plum Creek Farms (who has a discount offer for a limited time due to the excess of chickens they have from restaurant closures); Wenninghoff’s Farm, which tentatively plans to open mid-April, but either way, consider signing up for their CSA by April 10 to get a $10 credit to use in their greenhouse in May; and Big Muddy Urban Farm, which has a CSA that starts at the end of May.
Omaha Farmer’s Market has been deemed “an essential service,” but they’re gathering the public’s opinion on when to open. You can share your thoughts on the survey here.
Help me update this post! If you know of more ways to help Omaha businesses, artists, nonprofits, or neighbors, please leave a comment.
There’s a lot of unknowns at this time about COVID-19, more commonly known as the Coronavirus. Because of the unknowns, people are understandably being cautious and practicing social distancing. This is going to have a huge, negative impact on our local community as the medical advice has been saying, it will help “flatten the curve.”
Updates: I thought I was going to be able to update this post daily, but things are changing faster than 24 hours.
I encourage you to keep tabs on what local health officials are recommending, as well as following your own gut. If you don’t want to go out, don’t go out. If you do…and wash your hands. The current advice, as of March 16, is to avoid crowds of 50 or more people.
Things to do in Omaha when there’s a pandemic
Well, not surprisingly, there isn’t much recommended. Many attractions and tourist destinations, from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium to Omaha Children’s Museum, and many performing arts venues have halted shows at least through the end of March. Most theaters and arenas are offering refunds or will be rescheduling the shows.
With the weather starting to warm up, I’m making plans to be outside with my kids more.
Omaha events that are cancelled due to Coronavirus
So in a matter of 24 hours, things change quite a bit. Here’s just some of the Omaha events that have been canceled:
– Opera Omaha has postponed the 2020 ONE Festival slated to begin March 25. Patrons with tickets are encouraged to can contact the box office at 402-346-7372 x2 between the hours of 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday to discuss options. Subscription sales will continue for our 2020-2021 Season.
– NCAA canceled the entire men’s basketball tournament, which was going to have first- and second-round men’s basketball games on March 20 and 21 at the CHI Health Center.
– NCAA’s Men’s College World Series has been canceled. It was going to be from June 13 through June 23/24 at TD Ameritrade Park.
The fate of the U.S. Olympic Team Swim Trials from June 21-28 at CHI Health Center is still unknown. From what I’ve heard, it’s still going as planned.
Precautions you can take if you need to go out
OK, let’s say you have to run to the pharmacy or you’re out of toilet paper (good luck with that). Now what?
Here’s what the CDC is recommending to protect yourself if you go out:
– The best way to avoid getting COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to it. Sound advice. But if you have to go out, what can you do. Well:
– Keep calm and wash your hands.
– Seriously. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. No soap and water available? Use hand sanitizer.
– Follow regular preventative measures:
Don’t touch your mouth, nose or eyes, especially with unwashed hands.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing – DON’T cough or sneeze into your hands. Wash your hands afterward.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects in your home and car.
If you haven’t heard, “Disney’s The Lion King” is returning to Omaha in 2020. I saw the Broadway musical the first time the tour came to Omaha and it was jaw-dropping gorgeous. The return engagement will be at the Orpheum Theater in Omaha April 15 through May 10, 2020.
As of March 24, 2020, O-pa had to suspend all performance in April due to crowd restrictions put in place due to COVID-19. That means the performance WILL NOT be in Omaha this spring and Kids’ Night On Broadway WILL NOT occur.
While it is definitely long even by Broadway standards, the show is familiar and fun and great for kids. So, if you want to take the whole family, read on for the discount ticket promo.
Disclosure: I partnered with O-pa for this post so I could share the Kids’ Night On Broadway details with you. I received complimentary passes to the show. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.
What’s the show about?
Well, if you’ve seen the movie, then you are pretty familiar with “Disney’s The Lion King.” What I remember most of the show from the first time I saw it was the stunning puppetry. The opening scene is impressive.
Giraffes strut. Birds swoop. Gazelles leap. The entire Serengeti comes to life as never before. And as the music soars, Pride Rock emerges from the mist.
More than 100 million people around the world have experienced the visual artistry, the music and the theatrical storytelling of this Broadway spectacular.
Kids’ Night On Broadway
UPDATE: Kids’ Night On Broadway has been canceled for this show.
And now, here’s what you’ve come for: How to get discount tickets to the show! OK, there is one night when you can enjoy Buy One, Get One Free tickets. Each year, one Broadway touring production in Omaha participates in Kids’ Night on Broadway, where an adult can bring a child up to age 18 to the show. It’s for one night only.
Kids’ Night on Broadway is for the April 22 7:30 p.m. performance of “Disney’s The Lion King.” Use promo code KIDSNIGHT to get Buy One, Get One tickets at Price Level 1 to Price Level 3 for one adult and one child up to 18 years of age. It’s only valid for April 22, while supplies last.
Be sure to go through Ticket Omaha, the official ticket seller for shows at the Orpheum Theater. You can purchase tickets online at TicketOmaha.com, by phone at 402-345-0606, or save the handling fee and go to the box office located inside the Holland Performing Arts Center at 1200 Douglas St.
Kids’ Night On Broadway isn’t just about getting a free ticket to a Broadway show for your kiddo. There will be fun pre-show activities for kids in the lobby and a Meet & Greet with the show’s Young Cubs! Plus the first 200 children will receive a “Disney’s The Lion King” bag filled with treats (first come first served).
The nitty gritty details: Code processed as buy one get one free when two or more tickets are selected. Please be sure to purchase your intended number of tickets. Offer not valid on prior purchased tickets and may not be combined with any other offer. Not all seats are discounted.
ALL SALES FINAL. No exchanges or refunds. Blackout dates and other restrictions may apply. Standard service fees apply to online and phone orders. Dates, times, prices, and cast subject to change without notice. Offer may be revoked without notice. Limit nine tickets per person. All prices include a $2.25 facility fee and $2 city user’s fee. Offer expires on April 22, or while supplies last.
I have a cousin turning 6 this year and he owns his own home. Yeah, he’s a Leap Day baby. For those birthday “kids” excited to be celebrating Leap Day in Omaha, as well as the general public, there are some fun activities to look forward to.
Disclosure: I partnered with Altitude Omaha for this post and received complimentary admission in trade. All thoughts, opinions, and typos are my own.
Where to celebrate Leap Day in Omaha
It happens only every four years: Leap Day. Since it takes 365 1/4 days to go around the sun, an entire day is added to the month of February every four years. And 2020 is a Leap Year, making Feb. 29, 2020 Leap Day.
As you can imagine, trampoline places are all over the “leap” in Leap Day. Altitude Trampoline Park in Omaha actually has Leap Week planned to celebrate. It’s a 10-day celebration that runs from Feb. 21 through March 1.
The big day, Feb. 29, is an all-ages promotion for Leap Year babies. It’s a birthday party with gifts and free birthday jump passes for life!
Other promotions running during Leap Week: Two for $20 jump special; $50 off birthday parties; and $5 Toddler Time.
Altitude Omaha features more than 34,000 square feet of attractions, including Battle Beam; Extreme Dodgeball and Volleyball; The Foam Pit, High-9 Reaction Wall; Trampoline Basketball; The Main Court (wall-to-wall trampolines); Kid’s Court; Gymnastics Tumble Tracks, Wipeout; Performance Trampolines, Trapeze Swing and Rock Wall.
More 2020 Leap Day events in Omaha
While not a massive birthday party for Leap Year babies, there are several other fun events planned for Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.
Coffee: From Seed to Cup with A Hill of Beans – 10 a.m to noon at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St. $10 for members and $15 for non-members. Advanced registration required.
Sip N’ Shop | A Leap Day Event – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Hardy Coffee Co. inside the Highlander Building, 2112 N. 30th St. It’s a shopping event featuring local makers.
SuperMART Leap – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (games start at noon) at Nebraska Furniture Mart, 700 S. 72nd St.
Succulent Bar! – 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Makery, 12100 West Center Road, Suite 612. Select the container, succulent, and decorations and pay for the type/number of components chosen. Don’t forget to use TAGG with your purchase. All Ages.
Omaha Royal Princess Ball – 12:30 p.m. for earliest admission at Courtyard by Marriott Omaha Bellevue at Beardmore Event Center, 3730 Raynor Parkway, Bellevue, Neb. Regular tickets are $25 and early admission tickets are $40.
Celebrate Black History with Vaunda Micheaux Nelson – 1 to 3 p.m. at The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St. Reservations are required and regular museum admission applies; free for members. All Ages.
Omaha Fashion Week “Evolve Featured Designer Showcase” – 6 to 10 p.m. at the Omaha Design Center, 1502 Cuming St. Reserved seats are $45.
Dierks Bentley presented by WoodhouseGives – 7 p.m. at CHI Health Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St. Tickets are $40-$255 and benefit Food Bank Backpack Program.
Omaha Mom Prom – 7 to 11:30 p.m. at Soiree Room, 7040 N. 102nd Circle. SOLD OUT.
“Stomp” – 7:30 p.m. at the Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. Tickets are $30-$89.
Back to the 80s Party – 9 p.m. at Driftwood Inn, 2701 Harry Langdon Blvd., Council Bluffs, Iowa.
As one of Omaha’s most popular attractions, the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge offers visitors more than just a place to enjoy a walk or bicycle ride. From a troll guarding its entrance to photo opportunities, “Bob,” as locals call it, offers family fun with a splash park and summer concerts.
As the country’s longest pedestrian bridge that connects two states (Nebraska and Iowa), the Bob Kerrey offers several fun opportunities. On the Iowa side, you can enjoy long walks or bicycle rides along western Iowa trails. With his own Twitter account (@BobTBridge), the bridge shares jokes and fun tips.
The Kerrey bridge’s design reflects the current of the Missouri River. As you walk, jog or bicycle across the bridge, take the time to stop and read the information placards that cover the river’s history, and its role in the area’s development.
Meet OMAR the Troll
OMAR, a blue troll, sits at the foot of the Kerrey bridge on the Omaha side, standing guard against all who seek to cross. Will he ask you three questions in order to cross? Or, is he looking for the Billy Goats Gruff?
Actually, he’s there to pose for photos with anyone wanting one with a 300-lbs. blue guy (who’s not a Smurf). Added to the Missouri River bridge in 2019, OMAR (Omaha Missouri Area River) quickly became a fan favorite. He even has his own book, “OMAR finds a home,” which can be found at local book stores, such as The Bookworm.
Complete the .9k marathon
Run, bicycle, or walk the world’s shortest marathon at .9 kilometer, which is the distance from one end of the bridge to the other. The bridge is 3,000 feet long.
Take a selfie on the bridge and stop by the Omaha visitors center at 10th and Farnam streets and show it to the staff for a bumper sticker highlighting your achievement. It’s intended as a parody of the half- and full-marathon stickers runners receive.
Fun tip: To complete a true marathon, you’d need to cross the bridge 47 times, according to Visit Omaha.
Since the Kerrey bridge connects Nebraska and Iowa over the Missouri River, the act of standing midway across the bridge with one foot in Nebraska and the other in Iowa is known as “Bobbing.” It may be the most popular spot in the United States for photos of feet.
Take a picture and post in on social media with the hashtag #ItHappensOnBob.
Cool off at the sprayground
During the summer months (Memorial Day-Labor Day), a section of the riverfront near the foot of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge gives families and children an opportunity to jump around in the water spraying from the ground in a circular play area.
Parents and others can watch from a stepped seating area.
Attend a Bridge Beats concert
Beginning mid-July and running for the next six Friday evenings, the sprayground area of the Kerrey bridge turns into a concert arena with the annual Bridge Beats series.
Featuring popular local bands, such as Lemon Fresh Day, On The Fritz, and Taxi Driver, the public is invited to grab a seat on the stepped seats or the grassy area and enjoy the free concerts, which can range from Top 40 music to classic rock and country and western.
Rent a bike and ride across Bob
With a bike rack near the Bob Kerrey bridge, you can rent a single-rider bicycle from Heartland B-Cycle and enjoy a ride across the bridge and then travel along the riverfront trails on ether side of the Missouri River.
It’s a great way to exercise and have fun exploring the area. You can even ride the bicycle to explore other Omaha sites, but you’ll need to return it to one of the Heartland B-Cycle stands located around the city.
Located a short walk from the Kerrey bridge, the visitors center also features exhibits and information about the Lewis and Clark expedition, as well as the flags of the Native American tribes along the Missouri River to the Columbia River at the confluence with the Pacific Ocean, where the expedition ended.
Take a ride on the River City Star
Take a river cruise aboard the River City Star and see a different view of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. As the paddle boat travels downriver and then upriver, you can see the bridge from beneath, admiring the curves that represent the river’s current, as well as the city’s skyline.
The River City Star offers a variety of tours, including a public tour cruise and lunch or dinner cruises. The River Star is located a short distance north of the Kerrey bridge.
With a water splash area, free concerts and more, the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge offers people more than just a place to enjoy a walk or run. Connecting two states, the bridge is a beautiful spot to connect with family and friends.