Omaha Symphony Christmas Spectacular Giveaway

A long-running holiday tradition in Omaha is “The Physicians Mutual Omaha Symphony Christmas Spectacular.”

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I saw the “Christmas Spectacular” years ago with friends – it’s a large-scale production that goes beyond what you’d expect from an orchestra.

Think Santa, elves and reindeer.

Photo courtesy Omaha Symphony.
Photo courtesy Omaha Symphony.

Think Broadway stars singing and dancing. Think crowd singalongs.

Photo courtesy Omaha Symphony
Photo courtesy Omaha Symphony

And of course, think lush music from our city’s talented Omaha Symphony.

It’s a fun show for the family!

The “Christmas Spectacular” is Dec. 18-21 at the Holland Performing Arts Center, 12th and Douglas streets. Show times are Thursday, Dec. 18, 7 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 19, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 20, 2 and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 21, 2 and 7 p.m. You can get your tickets online now!

 

Giveaway

Symphony giveaway

 

Oh My! Omaha and the Omaha Symphony wants one lucky winner to go to “The Physicians Mutual Omaha Symphony Christmas Spectacular” for FREE! Enter to win FOUR (4) tickets to the Friday, Dec. 19, performance (starts at 7:30 p.m.) using the easy Rafflecopter entry form below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Deadline to enter the giveaway is Dec. 7 at 11:59 p.m. One winner will be drawn randomly. I will contact the winner via email within 48 hours – the winner will have 48 hours to respond before another name is drawn. Good luck!

 

Disclaimer: Omaha Symphony provided the tickets for this giveaway. 

 

Be sure to check out the post “50 Holiday Activities in Omaha” – it’s full of great family-friendly events and ideas to make this year’s holiday season memorable!

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Find out more about the following awesome events and giveaways:

Nov. 14 – BLUEBARN Theatre presents “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)”  – Giveaway ends Nov. 30

Nov. 15 – The Rose presents “A Christmas Story” – Giveaway ends Nov. 30

Nov. 19Amazing Pizza Machine – Giveaway ends Dec. 7

Nov. 21 – Omaha Symphony’s Christmas Spectacular – Giveaway ends Dec. 7

Nov 22Ugly Sweater Run – Giveaway ends Dec. 7

Nov. 26Omaha Children’s Museum presents Santa’s Magic – Giveaway ends Dec. 7

Nov. 28Sky Zone Omaha – Giveaway ends Dec. 14

 

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Today’s Giveaways

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Review: Symphony Spooktacular

Review: Radio City Christmas Spectacular

How many of you have seen “Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring The Rockettes”? It opened on Thursday, and I attended with three generations of my family: My dad, my sister and Farley.

My dates to "Radio City Christmas Spectacular" at a pre-show dinner at Wilson & Washburn.
My dates to “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” at a pre-show dinner at Wilson & Washburn.

(I was there first and foremost for work, but a nice perk of work is being able to attend things like this after my job is done. Disclaimer: I work for Omaha Performing Arts, the nonprofit organization presenting “Christmas Spectacular”).

Original plans called for Mr. Wonderful and Mooch to join us but Mooch has some mystery illness that’s kept her at home (and binging on “Curious George” on Netflix).

Anyway.

What to expect

The Rockettes are the draw of this show, and for good reason. You have not seen such precise dancing, such flawless execution.

The famous kick line
The famous kick line

You’ll also see Santa in several scenes, and he’s a lot of fun, especially the scene “Magic Is There,” when it’s explained how he can seemingly be in many places at once.

There are beautiful costumes – as you can imagine, the Rockettes have quite a few stunning outfits. The sparkly number at the end will impress. There are also fun costumes, especially the animals in “The Nutcracker” scene. Kids love the dancing animals in that scene.

There's a playful look at "The Nutcracker" in the "Radio City Christmas Spectacular."
There’s a playful look at “The Nutcracker” in the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular.”

There are six singers in the show. I’ll be honest, they are my least favorite part of the show. They’re all great singers, they’re just less exciting in comparison to 18 women high kicking and tap dancing and making it look easy.

Timing a potty break

It’s a 90-minute show with intermission, so you can expect asking your kid to hold it for about 45 minutes on either side of the show. You do not want to get up and leave during the performance (at different times of the show, cast members are in the aisle briefly).

Is it kid-friendly?

It’s great for kids! You know your kids best and their tolerance of live theater, but I was about to bring a 3-year-old so if you ask me, a well-rested preschooler can handle this show. Farley is a few days shy of 5 and he sat through the 7:30 p.m. show with no problem. It’s only 90 minutes long with intermission in there to stretch your legs a bit.

A preschooler’s favorite scenes? Farley’s favorite was the “Wooden Soldiers” bit, which is a feat of precision you have to see. He’ll try to act out the end if you ask him. A

My son loved the falling toy soldiers.
My son loved the falling toy soldiers.

lso, see what I wrote below about “New York At Christmas.” You put a moving bus in a show, this kid is going to sit up and take note.

Will adults like this?

I’d seen this show in Branson two decades ago. As a teenager, I was not thrilled with it. As a mom watching her kid in awe of the hundreds of Santas on stage, I loved the experience. It was magical seeing it all over again. Plus, I really could appreciate the talent of the Rockettes.

It is meant for young and old, and to demonstrate that I give you “New York At Christmas”: Farley loved the scene because it had a moving, life-size double-decker bus – my dad was equally impressed with that scene, more so because of the 50-foot LED screen that made the bus ride through New York look incredibly realistic.

What’s it about again?

Well, it’s kind of a celebration of Christmas without a storyline. There is a brief story that covers a few scenes in the second act, which is about two boys trying to find their sister a present and Santa helps them out by sending them to his workshop (those scenes are where you’ll see the fun 100 Santas number and the rag doll dance).

"The Living Nativity" is one of the final scenes of the show.
“The Living Nativity” is one of the final scenes of the show.

You get both the secular and religious sides of Christmas in the show. Many people love the beautiful “Living Nativity” scene. But you also get Santa and his reindeer.

 

 If you want to go

“Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring The Rockettes”

When: Now through Nov. 30, show times vary

Where: Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St.

Tickets: There are tickets still available to it! There are 34 performances at the Orpheum Theater through Nov. 30 – if you’ve been thinking of going, you haven’t missed the bus. Get tickets at TicketOmaha.com.

 

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The Preemie And The Rockette

My day job allows for some pretty interesting stories. One of the more interesting ones happened this fall with a Rockette.

Two Rockettes were in town to help promote the Omaha debut of  “Radio City Christmas Spectacular Starring The Rockettes” (opening Nov. 13!). Part of my job was to accompany the ladies to a few promotional events.

One evening, Rachel and Karilyn were to read stories at the Momaha story time at the Bellevue Public Library. I planned on bringing my two kids because, come on, it’s story time with the Rockettes. How cool is that?

Karilyn reads to children during a Momaha story time in September.
Karilyn reads to children during a Momaha story time in September.

I invited my sister who lived nearby. I knew she’d bring my infant niece, Sophie, whom my kids adore (“Soapie!”).

OK, to set the scene. It’s a PJ story time, Rachel and Karilyn have read some entertaining stories, led the kids in some ridiculously cute dance moves and now they’re signing autographs.

They’re genuinely interested in talking with each kid who bravely comes forward, taking pictures, and signing pictures.

It’s a long wait, but I finally get my daughter to go up there (Farley wasn’t having any picture taking that night, but he did get an autograph).

Mooch was all about the Rockette pose with her hand on the hip.
Mooch was all about the Rockette pose with her hand on the hip.

 

I motioned my sister to come forward. She brings little Sophie with her. Rachel – who happens to be from Norfolk – asks how old Sophie is. My sister proudly says she’s 6 months old, but to explain why she’s so tiny, she adds Sophie was born 3 months premature.

And that’s when Rachel tells my sister she was born 3 months premature.

Rachel chats with my sister and little Sophie about her road from preemie to Rockette.
Rachel chats with my sister and little Sophie about her road from preemie to Rockette.

 

And the kicker (pun intended?): Rachel was born in Norfolk weighing only 1 lb 10 oz – she was then lifeflighted to University of Nebraska Medical Center … the same hospital as Sophie’s.

Rachel half-talks to Sophie, explaining that she had gotten into dance because her doctor told Rachel’s mom that it’d help her stretch everything and build up strength.

At this point, everyone within listening distance is in tears.

Because, look at this stunning, glamorous, athlete in the most well-known dance troupe in the world, the Rockettes. The Rockette that was a preemie.

Just imagine what Sophie will be someday, you’re thinking, right?

Anyway. It was a neat moment for my sis and I.

My sister will attend opening night with me. I’ll be working before I can settle back into my seat. I’ll probably go again with my kids and Mr. Wonderful.

How about you and your family?

Omaha Performing Arts presents “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” Nov. 13 and through Nov. 30 at the Orpheum Theater.

I don’t want to give away too many details about what’s planned for opening night, but if you’re in the area or you have tickets to the show, get there at about 6:30 p.m. for a memorable arrival.

 

If you go

“Radio City Christmas Spectacular Starring The Rockettes”

When: Nov. 13-30

Where: Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St.

Tickets: TicketOmaha.com

 

Disclosure: I am an employee of Omaha Performing Arts. This blog is a personal project and not connected to the nonprofit organization. All thoughts are my own. 

 

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Start A Tradition: 12 Days Of Christmas

A friend back in college, Ann, used to get 12 Days of Christmas gifts from her dad. Some days, it’d be something small like a few of her favorite candy, other days would be a sweatshirt or money. That tradition has stuck in my mind, even more than a decade later.

I liked the idea of a thoughtful surprise – daily.

When I began dating Mr. Wonderful, I did 12 Days of Christmas for him – some gifts were silly, like a book of bad album covers; others were a little more thoughtful, like his favorite treats snuck into his lunch bag to surprise him, or a love letter.

On the sixth day of Christmas last year, Mr. Wonderful got a six-pack of reinbeer.
On the sixth day of Christmas last year, Mr. Wonderful got a six-pack of reinbeer.

I did a spin off of the 12 Days with my kids last year, only some “gifts” were outings instead of physical presents. For one, we drove around to look at Christmas lights while the kids got special treats in the car (or slept in their carseat…I’m looking at you, Mooch). One gift was a Christmas book each. Another gift was an activity – building a gingerbread house, sledding, that sort of thing.

I didn't want to get the kids 12 gifts, so some days of the 12 Days of Christmas were activities, like building a gingerbread house.
I didn’t want to get the kids 12 gifts, so some days of the 12 Days of Christmas were activities, like building a gingerbread house.

It takes some planning, which is hard with so much going on. In the Pinterest age, 12 Days of Christmas has expanded to a month’s worth. It’s a little overwhelming.

25 Days of Christmas courtesty of All Things Simple blog. Overacheiver (but a good source for inspiration).
25 Days of Christmas courtesty of All Things Simple blog.

A bucket full of joy. I believe there are 25 days in there. Found this on workmanfamily blog.

 

These people are overachievers (but good sources for ideas if you decide to do 12 Days of Christmas).

But 12, 12 is manageable.

I have yet to decide if I’ll do it this year for the kids. Better decide soon, huh?

How about you, do you like the idea of 12 Days of Christmas?

Beginners Guide To Wells Fargo Family Festival

I’m a big fan of the Wells Fargo Family Festival. It’s the one time of year you can go to several Omaha institutions for FREE and enjoy kid-friendly entertainment. This year, the festival falls on Sunday, Dec. 8. holiday lights logoWe’ve gone a few times now, and I feel I’ve learned a few things about getting the most out of this FREE event.

Make a Game Plan

See what’s going on at each of the venues here. Then decide what’s a priority.

Do you want to go somewhere that usually has an admission but is free during the festival? Check out The Durham Museum or Omaha Children’s Museum.

Want to go somewhere that isn’t often open to the public? Check out the Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn.

Want to see Santa? Get in line at Omaha Children’s Museum or The Durham Museum.

Head to the W. Dale Library to decorate - and eat - sugar cookies.
Head to the W. Dale Library to decorate – and eat – sugar cookies.

Wants FREE snacks or hot cocoa? Head to Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn, Wells Fargo Bank or W. Dale Clark Library. Side note: The hot cocoa at the horse barn is freaking hot.

Want to listen to live music? Omaha musicians will perform at The Durham Museum, W. Dale Clark Public Library, the Wells Fargo Bank and Joslyn Art Museum.

Decorating cowboy hats at the Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn in 2012. Farley is in a serious discussion with his aunt regarding the artistic direction of his hat.
Decorating cowboy hats at the Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn in 2012. Farley is in a serious discussion with his aunt regarding the artistic direction of his hat.

Your kids like making things? Head to the Creative Arts Area at Omaha Children’s Museum, decorate cowboy hats at the Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn or check out Joslyn to make winter-themed works of art using alphabet stencils, sponges, oil pastels and tempera paint.

Don’t Try To Do It All

There are six venues hosting activities and if you try to go to all of them, you’ll wear yourself down. I’ve tried it, and I don’t recommend it. You’ll feel rushed and everyone will be exhausted. Calculate the time needed to get to each place plus parking; or, if you’re taking the free trolley, calculate the wait.

I recommend two to three stops. When Farley was younger and it was just us and him, one stop was enough.

Plan a Quiet Stop

It’s a good idea to stop somewhere to take a breather, either somewhere not a part of the Family Festival, or one of the quieter stops. I’ve found W. Dale Clark Library to be a little less hectic than the other places. The cookie decorating area is always packed, but last year, we enjoyed a little bit of calm during storytime in the kids area.

Getting From One Place To The Next

Ride the trolley with some of my nieces during our first ever Family Fest (in 2007).
Ride the trolley with some of my nieces during our first ever Family Fest (in 2007).

There is a free trolley that takes people to each stop. It’s fun, everyone sings Christmas carols. The kids love it. It is, however, quite popular, so you’ll likely be waiting in line to get on one – in line, outside. If you haven’t checked, it’s pretty cold in Omaha this time of year. That wait, with antsy kids…it is not fun.

Still, it’s probably better than driving yourself to each venue. You won’t get to park too close to the venue, so the time you spend walking from your car to the entrance is probably close to the time you’ll spend waiting for a trolley.

Dress warmly

Which brings me to my next recommendation: Bundle up. Good golly, it is cold out there. The Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn is not a warm place to be, so if that’s on your list to visit, definitely dress accordingly.

If you go:

Wells Fargo Family Fest

When: Dec. 8, noon to 5 p.m.

Where: Wells Fargo Bank, 20th and Douglas streets; Omaha Children’s Museum, 500 S. 20th St.; Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn, 615 Leavenworth St.; The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.; W. Dale Clark Library, 215 S. 15th St.; Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St.

Cost: FREE

Tip: Ollie the Trolley will provide free trolley rides between locations. Have fun participating in holiday sing-alongs during your travels!

Your turn: Where do you plan on going during the Wells Fargo Family Festival?

Where To Buy Handmade Gifts In Omaha

It’s hard not to get all caught up in the Black Friday hysteria. The deals! Insanity!

Having worked retail during the holiday season for a few years, I’ve come to have a love/hate relationship with shopping this time of year. I truly love a good bargain, but wow, people. Wow. Shoppers can be ugly and mean. During my first Christmas at the Barnes & Noble music department, I watched a customer chuck a DVD at a co-worker because it she couldn’t find it in any other store but she didn’t want to pay full price. So she threw it at him.

I try to get most of my Christmas shopping done early or done online. If I’m looking for unique gifts, though, I’ve found a few local options where I’ve yet to see an adult throw a tantrum. Two that I’ve liked going to in the past are the Hot Shops Open House and the Holiday Market (now at Aksarben Village, but I first checked it out when it was in the Old Market). The neat thing about those two (and most of the others on the list below) is that you can talk with the person who created the gift you’re about to buy. They painted it, or knitted it, or sculpted it. You might find an interesting story to go with the beautiful gift, making it all the more personalized and thoughtful. Go you!

Here’s where to go to buy handmade gifts from artwork to jewelry to crafty stuff:

Modern Makers Holiday Craft Bazaar

When: Nov. 30 through Dec. 1, Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. .

Where: Boiler Room Studios, 4383 Nicholas St.

Details: Features a variety of handpicked modern artists ranging from jewelry, ceramics, skincare, home goods and stationary

Cost: FREE

Dundee Gallery Annual Holiday Show

When: Dec. 1-31, Tuesdays-Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sundays, noon, to 5 p.m. Closed on Christmas Day.

Where: Dundee Gallery, 4916 Underwood Ave.

Details: Dundee Gallery is home to a collection of fine art, sculpture, pottery, glass, ceramics and jewelry from more than 50 local and regional artists.

Cost: FREE

6×6 Holiday All-Members Show

When: Dec. 3-29, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 6 p.m. Opening reception is Dec. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Where: Artists’ Cooperative Gallery, 405 S. 11th St.

Details: The only theme for this show is the dimension of the work, 6”x6”x6″, which offers affordable gift-giving sizes for holiday shopping.

Cost: FREE

Happy Holidays Craft and Gift Show

When: Dec. 7, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: Westside Community Conference Center, 3534 S. 108th St.

Details: Handmade items as well as jewelry, scarves, hats, candles, purses and totes, fresh baked holiday goodies.

Cost: A non-perishable item or $1 for the food bank.

Indian Market Holiday Bazaar

When: Dec. 7, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: University of Nebraska Omaha – Sapp Fieldhouse, 6001 Dodge St.

Details: Find Native American art, jewelry, baked goods, home decor and other gifts.

Cost: FREE

Physicians Mutual and WOWT Holiday Market

When: Dec. 7 and 8, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Aksarben Village, 67th and Center streets

Details: Under two heated tents, you’ll find more than 40 local vendors selling items from handmade crafts and décor to specialty food and drinks. See Santa on Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.

Cost: FREE

Hot Shops Holiday Open House

When: Dec. 7 and 9, Saturday, noon to 8 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Details: The event features art demonstrations and live music, with residents of the Hot Shops opening their studios to the public. The artwork created at the Art Center ranges from drawings, paintings, prints, photography and digital imagery to sculptures, installations, pottery, glass art, weaving, custom furniture, and clay, iron, brass,and aluminum cast architectural pieces.

Cost: FREE

Holiday Spot Craft Show

When: Dec. 8, 1 to 4 p.m.

Where: Smiling Turtle Art Spot, 2340 S. 156th Circle

Details: Features guests artists and vendors as well as a mini-massage from a licensed massage therapist. Free cookies and cider, too.

Cost: FREE

Holiday Pop Up Shop

When: Dec. 15, 1 to 4 p.m.

Where: Smiling Turtle Art Spot, 2340 S. 156th Circle

Details: Features guests artists, including members of the Omaha Craft Mafia and Blacksmith Shop Omaha. Free cookies and cider, too.

Cost: FREE