April 15, 2018

What’s TAGG & How Can A Family Use It?

If you’ve been following me on social media, you may have noticed a post or tweet (or two) about Together A Great Good, or simply, TAGG. TAGG is a local app that helps you easily raise money for causes you support. It’s super simple.

Here’s How TAGG Works:

Step One: Download the TAGG app.

Step Two: Visit participating businesses and snap a photo of your receipt.

Step Three: Choose which cause to support. The business will donate to your cause.

Step Four: Share your good deed with others (ie. tweet or post about it).

Super simple. And it’s been around for a while and keeps growing (I wrote about it two years ago), so if you aren’t already, it’s time you started TAGGing.

And there really isn’t a catch to it. If you shop or dine in Omaha, there’s a good chance that you’re frequenting businesses that participate in TAGG. There are even services like insurance, chiropractic care and roofing that are on the list. See the current list here.

A night out at V. Mertz makes a great date night and it’s a participating TAGG business, so V. Mertz will donate a portion of your bill to a cause of your choice.

 

Plan a nice night out – like a date night to V. Mertz – and you can donate a nice chunk of change to your favorite nonprofit.

Things Families Might TAGG

My kids and I joined fellow bloggers at The Makery recently for a TAGG event to make succulents. Even making succulents at The Makery is a TAGG-able thing.

My kids and I made our own succulents at The Makery. When you go to The Makery, you TAGG your purchase and The Makery will donate a percentage of your bill to the cause of your choice.

I think families will likely TAGG a lot of restaurant outings. Some of my family’s favorite restaurants are TAGG businesses, including Blatte Beer & Table, eCreamery, and Varsity Sports Cafe & Roman Coin Pizza (49th and Dodge location only).

That’s just the food stuff, though. You can also TAGG your outings to Aksarben Cinema (concessions & bar only), Boulder Creek, BounceU, Dave & Buster’s, Maplewood Lanes, Papio Bowl, Papio Fun Park, Pump It Up, Sempeck’s Bowling and Entertainment, The Escape Omaha, and Tregaron Golf Course… for example.

And because we’re all forgetful (or is it just me?), you have some leeway on TAGGing things. We went on a trip to Lincoln and I forgot to TAGG our afternoon at Lost in Fun. You have a week to TAGG your receipt, so even if you forget the day you made your purchase, you can still TAGG it.

What Can You Support With TAGG

The app allows you to create a list of charities, teams and organizations you want to support. When you’re ready to TAGG a purchase, choose from them for each purchase. Or just pick one and funnel all of your donations to it. Your call.

For families, this may mean choosing a sports team, a school PTA, or church. My current causes include my kids’ school, some local theaters, the rescue groups that saved our family dogs, and American Cancer Society.

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April 9, 2018

What To Do In Omaha With Non-Recyclable Plastics

With Earth Day this month, reducing our waste is high on my mind. We finally started recycling our glass this year, but I know there’s more my household can do. Last year, I told you all about the Hefty® EnergyBag™ program. It’s time to revisit it since they’re now even more convenient to purchase and begin using.

Hefty Energy Bag

Since the program started in 2016, it’s grown, and now it’s at Hy-Vee stores near me. So, stay tuned for me sharing our experience trying the program later this month!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Hefty®. All thoughts, opinions, and typos are my own.

Let’s dive into the program.

What is the Hefty® EnergyBag™ program

You’re probably already familiar with Hefty’s® strong, dependable waste bags, but Hefty’s® is also a leader in slider bags, foam plates, and plastic cups. The cool thing about the >Hefty® EnergyBag™ program, is that it offers a solution for the plastics around your house that typically can’t be recycled mechanically.

Consumers can buy the orange Hefty® EnergyBags™, fill them with plastics, and then have that bag picked up curbside. The plastics are then sorted and converted into energy to produce cement.

This isn’t a recycling program, so keep on gathering your recyclables. This is a solution for collecting plastics that cannot be recycled.

How the Hefty® EnergyBag™ Program works

The Hefty® EnergyBag™ is picked up along with your regular recyclables and trash. The non-recyclable plastics you wouldn’t place in your regular recycling bin can typically go into the Hefty® EnergyBag™.

– You collect your non-recycled plastics in the bright orange bag.

– Once you fill a bag, you place it curbside with your other recyclables and trash for pick up as part of normal service and schedule.

– The non-recyclable plastics are then taken to a local materials recovery facilities and sorted.

– The non-recyclable plastics then sent to a local energy recovery facility, where plastics are converted into valuable energy resources.

What can be collected in a Hefty® EnergyBag™ orange bag

A lot! This is what I’m thrilled about. As a family with young kids, we have more than our fair share of plastic wrappers and waste that previously we just threw away.

Here’s what can be put in a Hefty® EnergyBag™ orange bag:

– Potato chip bags and other snack bags
– Candy wrappers
– Granola bar and energy bar wrappers
– Plastic and foam cups, plates and bowls
– Shredded cheese packages
– Salad bags
– Plastic pet food bags
– Frozen fruit & vegetable bags
– Pudding cups
– Stand-up pouches
– Squeezable baby food pouches
– Foam to-go boxes
– Packing peanuts
– Plastic utensils
– Plastic straws and stirrers
– Cake mix liners and other dry powder mix liners
– Plastic toothpaste tubes
– Condiment packets
– All other non-recycled plastic bags

Why use a Hefty® EnergyBag™?

– The big thing for me is that this program reduces landfill waste – by the tons. I’ve been throwing all of this stuff away.

– It also creates more local energy resources and less fossil energy dependence.

– It converts non-recycled plastics into alternative energy, which can be used to power businesses, cars and homes.

– It makes things super easy for you. The non-recycled plastics are collected at curbside along with your normal hauler pick up.

– It improves the quality of other recycling streams/channels.

Where can you find these bags?

That was a big question on my blog last year. The program began just in Omaha, and now it’s grown to Louisville, Ralston, Papillion and La Vista, Neb. In May, it should start in Bellevue. Currently, the bags can be purchased locally at participating Hy-Vee stores:

– 5150 Center St.

– 14591 Stony Brook Blvd.

– 8809 W. Center Road

– 7910 Cass St.

– 9707 Q St.

– 747 N. 132nd St.

– 17810 Welch Plaza

– 1000 S. 178th St.

– 11650 S. 73rd St.

– 10808 Fort St.

– 3410 N. 156th St.

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April 8, 2018

100 Things To Do In Omaha Challenge

When my friends, Tim and Lisa, published their first book “100 Things To Do In Omaha Before You Die,” Lisa asked how many I’ve done. As bloggers at The Walking Tourists, they write a lot about Omaha, as do I (obvs). So, I too wondered how many I could check off. Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking the link, at no extra cost to you, I receive a small compensation for recommending it. Thanks for supporting this blog!

things to do in Omaha

Answer: I’ve done about 75 things in the book. Being a completionist, there are some half-finished sections that I don’t want to count, like the coffee shop list that has just one place left to visit (The Bike Union/The Coffee Union) and the classic steakhouses (I’m missing The Drover and Cascio’s).

So I’ve got about 25 things to check off from “100 Things To Do In Omaha Before You Die.” Rather than list all of them, here are the 10 I’ve set up as a mini challenge for me to visit before summer ends. As you’ll see in my list, the book covers a good variety of things to do in Omaha, from dining and sports to arts and history.

If it ever begins. Will winter ever end in Nebraska?!

100 Things To Do In Omaha Mini Challenge

1. Alpine Inn

I know you’re shocked to hear I haven’t gone to this quirky restaurant, where the main draw is watching wild raccoons pick through chicken bones out on the patio. Tim and Lisa promise Alpine Inn’s fried chicken is worth the wait. If you go, snag seats by the large windows for the “big dinner show.” Alpine Inn, 10405 Calhoun Road

2. College World Series at Ameritrade Park

It’s been a few years now that Ameritrade Park became the new home of the NCAA College World Series. Maybe I ought to see a game there? Technically, I have been to the park, at least. I’ve been to Fan Fest. Should I count that? Should I say I’ve checked 76 things off the list? Ameritrade Park, 1200 Mike Fahey St.

3. Microbreweries

Omaha’s craft brewery scene is growing, and I can’t keep up. I can only check off half the list in the book “100 Things To Do In Omaha Before You Die.” Here are the breweries I have yet to visit: Lucky Bucket Brewery, 11941 Centennial Road, La Vista, Neb.; Farnam House Brewing Co., 3558 Farnam St.; Brickway Brewing & Distillery, 1116 Jackson St.; Kros Strain Brewery, 10411 Portal Road, suite 102, La Vista, Neb.; Scriptown Brewing Co., 3922 Farnam St.

4. Bryson’s Airboat Tours

Though technically not an Omaha thing, these boat tours on the Platte River are close enough. If you’re not from around here, you might be surprised to know the Platte River in Nebraska is pretty shallow – like inches deep. So it makes sense that airboats are about the only way to really cruise the river. Bryson’s Airboat Tours, 879 Co. Road 19, Fremont, Neb.

5. Florence Bank and Florence Mill

Florence is one of those historic neighborhoods of Omaha that I haven’t explore much of. Two museums included in the Florence section are on my list to visit: Historic Florence Bank and Florence Mill. Find them at 8502 N. 30th St. and 9102 N. 30th St.

6. Film Streams at Dundee Theater

Here’s another one where I can say I could check it off the list, as I’ve been to Dundee Theater back in the day (anyone remember Midnight Movies?). But, I haven’t revisited it since it’s been renovated by the nonprofit Film Streams. The plan is to have a meal at Kitchen Table first and then see a movie. Film Streams at Dundee Theater, 4952 Dodge St.

7. Diventures

I haven’t been to Diventures, but mainly because I’ve never had a good reason to. I don’t plan trips that off good scuba diving opportunities, so I haven’t had a reason to learn it. Yet. Side note for those with kids: They also offer mermaid and shark classes with fin bodysuits. Or forget the kids, maybe you want to learn to be mermaid? Diventures, 4303 W. 121st Plaza

8. Horsemen’s Park

One obvious reason that I haven’t been to Horsemen’s Park is that I don’t know a thing about horse racing. But, I’ve heard on the few nights a year that they have live horse racing, it’s quite a party at Horsemen’s Park. Maybe I should once just for the experience? The 2018 live racing schedule is: May 12 (Opening Day), May 18 & 19 (Preakness), May 26 & 27 (Family Day), June 1 & 2, and June 8 & 9 (Belmont). Horsemen’s Park, 6303 Q St.

9. General Crook House Museum

Here’s a landmark I have yet to truly explore. Built in 1879, it’s been lovingly restored and is now on National Register of Historic Places. I was thinking I’d time it with a special event, or when it’s decorated for the holidays in November and December…but then I discovered they offer Afternoon Tea events there. I think I need to round up a group for that. General Crook House Museum, 5730 N. 30th St., Building 11B

10. Alpacas of the Heartland

My kids can say they’ve been to the Alpacas of the Heartland farm during the annual open house, but I can’t. The pictures are stinking cute though. Who can resist alpacas? Incidentally, I just stumbled across an event coming up: Yoga Humm – Yoga in the Fields With the Alpacas on April 28. I think I know when I’ll be going there. Alpacas of the Heartland, 7016 County Road 39, Fort Calhoun, Neb.

 

If you’ve bought the book, I’m curious to know how many you’ve checked off. Leave a comment!

 

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April 6, 2018

‘American Adventure’ Guide For Families

The description of “American Adventure,” the temporary exhibit at The Durham Museum,” reads like it would go over the heads of most kids: Minotaur Mazes’ ‘American Adventure’ takes visitors on an immersive, educational roleplay adventure that asks people to conquer one great challenge: survive the year as one of the original
Jamestown colonists.”

I tried out this maze with my two kids, ages 6 an 8, and here’s how what we thought of the experience. If you want to visit “American Adventure,” the exhibit runs through July 29, 2018. Be sure to check out the rest of the museum while there! Here’s my guide to taking children to The Durham MuseumDisclosure: I was provided complimentary passes to experience the exhibit so I could write about it.

What to expect during “American Adventure”

An overhead view of “American Adventure.” The traveling exhibit is at The Durham Museum in Omaha through July 29, 2018. Photo courtesy Durham Museum

Like a typical maze, there is only one way to enter. At the entrance, we each received our unique identity of one the Jamestown colonists. These were real colonists (all men) and at the end of the maze, we could check if they survived that first year or not.

Each colonist has a life chart, and as we move through the maze, we each track a series of life choices on an it. You can earn (or lose) points for health, wealth, food and morale at each turn of the maze. Watch out for the Wheel of Misfortune!

The goal is to make it past more than two-dozen tests spread out over four seasons. Tests range from trying to rope a sturgeon and guessing whether or not you can eat an animal, to more historically significant questions, like if you’re a gentleman, do you really help with manual labor or not. Keep all four life chart categories above the life line and you “survive.” Choose poorly and you have to exit the maze.

What kids think of “American Adventure”

The physical challenges in the “American Adventure” were my kids’ favorites.

There are plenty of things for my kids to like about the exhibit, “American Adventure,” and a few things that they didn’t. The physical challenges, pretending to climb was high up there and getting a Food point just for scraping a turtle shell were fun things for them.

What’s difficult, especially for my 6-year-old, was that most challenges required some reading. If your child isn’t patient, you may have to skip reading most of the things and go right to the challenge. It misses the educational component of the exhibit, but keeps the fun going for the kid.

Also note that the younger the kid, the more help they’ll need tracking their life chart.

Some challenges required reading, which my youngest didn’t have patience for, though most were self-explanatory. Photo courtesy Durham Museum

If your kids are competitive, they may also get frustrated with how easy it is to fail at “American Adventure.” The odds of survival are stacked against you. One accidental snakebite or bad food choice, and you’re dead.

Tips for “American Adventure”

Not many exhibits have mini ziplines, but “American Adventure” does. Photo courtesy Durham Museum

Visit during non-peak hours. This is a popular exhibit and since it’s a maze, you may have groups in front of you or behind you. If you don’t feel like rushing through your reading, I recommend going during the week instead of on the weekend.

Go to the bathroom before starting the maze. Self-explanatory, especially if you’re visiting with kids.

See the rest of the exhibit. It’s tempting to finish the maze, get your “I survived” sticker, and then head out. However, there’s more to “American Adventure” than the maze. There are displays of items found at the original James Fort of Historic Jamestown as well as original documents. There’s also a building activity table and a fun photo opp.

Plan about an hour for the exhibit. You can rush through it quicker, sure, but if you’re there to learn about about what it took to start a colony in the New World, read some of the displays. Also, realize if your colonist dies early and you have to exit the maze, you can start all over again.

Learn more. There are three lectures scheduled tied to the exhibit: “Surviving Jamestown: The Harrowing First Years of a Founding American Community,” April 17 at 6:30 p.m.; “The Shipwreck That Saved Jamestown: The Sea Venture Castaways and the Fate of America,” May 8 at 6:30 p.m. (book-signing to follow); and “Pocahontas and the Powhatan Dilemma,” July 24 at 6:30 p.m. (book-signing to follow). Registration is required. Regular museum admission applies; free for members.

If you go

“American Adventure”

Where: The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.

When: Now through July 29, 2018

Cost: Included with museum admission

 

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April 3, 2018

Bloggers From Omaha: Jenna Gabrial Gallagher

Kim’s note: The Bloggers From Omaha series introduces different voices from around Omaha. Each week Whenever I can, I’ll introduce a different Omaha blogger, what his or her blog is all about, and since I love getting recommendations as much as I love giving them, I’ve asked each person to share some Omaha tips. Today’s blogger, Jenna at The Beaspora, seeks out inspiring people helping to using their creativity to make the Midwest a better place.

Your name: Jenna Gabrial Gallagher

Blog’s name and link: The Beaspora 

Your social media handles you want shared: Insta/Twitter/Pinterest: @thebeaspora; FB: The Beaspora

 

Describe your blog in five words.

Celebrating pollinators of world-class talent.

 

What are the two most popular posts on your blog? What makes them so good?

For Women’s History Month, I’ve been doing a series of posts on women entrepreneurs in Omaha, and two of these, Nebraska’s Women Pastry Chef Revolution and Empowered By Great Design are my two most popular posts. They showcase exactly what inspired me to start the blog in the first place: there are a lot of people in smaller cities across America with serious talent and experience. They come (or, more often, come back) to cities like Omaha because it’s a more affordable place to take a chance on owning a business, and because of the incredible support communities like ours give to small businesses. The women I spoke to gave me the most amazing quotes. Their perspective was really thoughtful and personal, and I felt incredibly honored that they were willing to share it with me and my readers.

What social media channel are you on the most and why?

My preference is Instagram. On Facebook and Twitter, it’s information overload. On Instagram, it’s inspiration overload — and I’d much rather have that.

 

You get one hour to spend on writing, where in Omaha do you go?

I have this fantasy that I’d go to Wilson & Washburn because I saw a friend working there once and it just seemed like a cool thing to do. But I’m so easily distracted that I almost have to work at home in my office.

 

If friends visit from out of town, what three places would you take them to?

Jenna takes visitors to the zoo and snaps a photo of them at the same spot. Each photo goes into an album kept in the guest room. Photo courtesy Jenna Gabriel Gallagher

– I don’t think we’ve ever had a visitor that we didn’t take to Dante. Having dinner there is like spending an evening in Italy, but because they source so many of their ingredients locally, my guests can really get a sense of Nebraska’s terroir.

– Of course Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. My husband jokes that I’m the best and the worst person to go to the zoo with because I’ve had the opportunity to interview a lot of the keepers (through my day job at Albers Communications) so I totally geek out on their history, their upcoming projects and everything that they do for worldwide conservation. I have a tradition of making everyone pose for a photo on the rope bridge in the Lied Jungle and I’ve been thinking of compiling them all into a photo album for my guest room — in place of a guest book.

– Lately, so many fab stores have opened at Countryside Village and I’m really proud to show it off because it’s right in my neighborhood. When my friends visit, we can literally roll out of bed on Saturday morning and shop for drop dead chic shoes, fashion, home design and gifts just around the corner (plus at Among Other Things and Esther’s a stone’s throw away). There’s even yoga and a full-service salon. Later on, we can grab a low-key cocktail at Inkwell or listen to live music at Cedar. There aren’t a lot of places west of midtown Omaha where you can walk to retail, restaurants and entertainment, so we really appreciate having such a quality one nearby.

What’s your favorite free thing to do in Omaha?

I love to walk around downtown.

Want to know what you can find downtown? Start with this post: 11 free things to do in the Old Market.

More about Jenna

Photo courtesy Jenna Gabriel Gallagher

Jenna Gabrial Gallagher grew up in the Midwest and New England reading fashion magazines, and eventually went to work for one (Harper’s Bazaar). She’s lived in coastal NH, Boston, Paris and New York, and currently writes and edits from Omaha, Neb. where she lives with her husband and three funny little girls.
March 24, 2018

10 Things Families Will Love About Storm Chasers Games In 2018

I’m very excited to announce that I’m partnering with Omaha Storm Chasers this year! If you haven’t been to a game, this is the year to plan a family outing. The Storm Chasers are celebrating their 50th season, and they have a ton planned that appeals to families.

A ballgame at Werner Park is always a family-friendly experience – I’ve written about taking kids to a Storm Chasers game before. But this year, they’ve added some extras for the big anniversary. I’ve combed though all of their promotions to share my favorite things about the season.

Here are 10 things families are going to love about Storm Chasers Games this year:

Celebrating the Decades

From music to flashback jerseys, the Storm Chasers will celebrate a decade each month of the season. Check the calendar for nights where there are bobble head giveaways connected to each decade, Flashback Fridays, and beer specials by the decade.

April – 2011-Present, Storm Chasers

May – 2000-2010, Spikes/Royals

June – 1990-1999, Royals/Spikes

July – 1980-1989, Royals

August – 1969-1979, Royals

50th Game of the 50th Season

The big game falls on July 20, a Friday night. So, in addition to the 1985 Royals Flashback Jersey, fans get to enjoy Friday Fireworks.

Theme Nights

The Star Wars themed night at the park is on May 4 (get it?). Photo courtesy Omaha Storm Chasers

These are an annual favorite, and if you have Star Wars or princess fans in your house, there’s a good chance you’ve gone to one of these games. The theme nights that stand out to me include Star Wars Night on May 4 (get it? May the Fourth be with you.), Superhero Night on June 30, and Daddy-Daughter Night on July 13.

Tip: There are fireworks following the games on Star Wars Night and Daddy-Daughter Night.

Fun Storm Chasers Jerseys

In addition to five flashback jerseys that tie into the jerseys I just mentioned, there are other designs you’ll see throughout the season. Many will be auctioned off to benefit charities.

Star Wars fan? Go to the May 4th (get it?) game to see the Star Wars X-Wing Pilot Jersey presented by ParentSavvy.com. It’s going to be auctioned off. There are 10 special jerseys worn this season, and I think I have my eye on the look out for the Omaha Runzas Jersey presented by…guess. It’s presented by Runza, and you’ll see it on the diamond and then auction off on June 9.

Meet The Greats

Omaha Storm Chasers have 11 alumni appearing at games throughout the 2018 season. Photo courtesy Omaha Storm Chasers

Fifty years is a lot of years to commemorate, and a lot of players to recognize. If your kid loves meeting baseball players, plan for these games:

May 5 – Mike Sweeney (1996-97, 2002-03, 06)

May 25 or 26 – Angel Berroa (2002, 07-08)

June 22 – Harold Reynolds (1995)

June 24 – Chris Hatcher (1997-98, 2002), Dwayne Hosey (1994-95), Dave Ullery (2001-04) & Ken Harvey (2002, 05)

July 20 – Jack McKeon (1969-71), Bill Beck & Bob Quinn

Aug. 24 – Frank White (1973)

Friday Fireworks

Friday nights home games for the Storm Chasers mean fireworks. Photo courtesy Omaha Storm Chasers

All season long, if the home game falls on a Friday night, there will be fireworks following the game. There are 11 Friday nights in the schedule, and the first one is April 6.

Of course, they aren’t limiting the fireworks to just Friday nights this year. The super popular Independence Day games end with fireworks (those two nights are on July 2 and 3).

There are also fireworks following the game on Sunday, May 27, and Saturday, July 21.

 

Bark in the Park

If your kids are of the four-legged variety, take note of these dates: April 18, June 6, Aug. 1, Aug. 15 and Aug. 29. You can bring your dog to the game and sit on the berm on Bark in the Park games (just be sure to pre-register).

Tip: Bark at the Park nights happen to coincide with Weiner Wednesdays…so cheap dinners for all! Full-sized hot dogs are 25 cents each at Wednesday evening home games.

First 50 Kids Promotion

Attending the Storm Chasers game as a family was included in my list of 25 things to do under $25 in Omaha. Prices are low to begin with but you can save even more money on game day with the First 50 Kids promotion. The first 50 kids (10 years and under) to arrive at the Werner Park Ticket Office on day of game are able to purchase McDonald’s Berm tickets for just $1, all season-long, regardless of game promotion. The berm is that grassy seating area. Details here.

Family FunDays

If your kid is too young to stay up late for evening games, the Sunday afternoon home games should be on your radar. Known as Family FunDays, there are some great opportunities for kids to be out on the field. Check the schedule for the dates the can run the bases or play catch on the field. Family FunDays also always have clowns and balloon artists.

Family Fun Zone

My kids could spend the entire game here if I let them. The Centris Family Fun Zone at Werner Park is an extra fee, but totally worth it. Photo courtesy Omaha Storm Chasers

If you’re a regular at Storm Chaser games, and you have kids, chances are, you’ve been to the Centris Family Fun Zone. This was definitely my kids’ favorite part of Werner Park in their young days – I’m curious to see if it still is when we go this season. You don’t get to watch much baseball from there, though.

The Family Fun Zone is a large area behind left field with inflatables, jungle gym, and a carousel. It does cost $6 for kids ages 3+ to enter if you don’t have a Centris ATM, Visa Credit or Debit card.

There’s also a combo pass option for $7, which includes playing in the fun zone and miniature golf for $7.

Wait. There’s more!

See the full calendar of promotions here. Since this list is limited to just 10 things you’ll love, I couldn’t fit in all the concerts, giveaways, and more planned.

And before I end this, here’s my money-saving tip: If you want FREE parking, drive past all the signs for the paid lots until you reach the dirt lot on the north side of the stadium (take it with a grain of salt that it’s still free since I haven’t been to a game in years).

If you go

Storm Chasers Baseball Games

Where: Werner Park, 12356 Ballpark Way, Papillion, Neb.

Season starts March 26 with an expo game against the Kansas City Royals. First home game of the season is April 5 (Thirsty Thursday, y’all). See the full schedule or purchase tickets.

 

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