Snow and ice blanketed Omaha over the weekend, but the weather didn’t put a damper on the family-friendly fun at the KETV Family Festival Sunday, Dec. 2.
The KETV Family Festival, an Omaha Holiday Lights Festival event, offered community members free entrance to five local attractions, including the Omaha Children’s Museum, Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn and The Durham Museum.
Family photo opportunities, giveaways, such as free children’s books at the W. Dale Clark Library, face painting, live performances and arts and crafts ensured there was something for everyone to enjoy throughout the festival’s locations.
At the Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn, Roxanne Nielsen, one of the festival’s managers, handed out straw hats by the entrance while sharing event details. She said organizers were worried about the weather, but attendees were still coming out to enjoy the activities.
“It’s just a party here,” Nielsen said.
For Robin Jamin and her family, attending the festival is a holiday tradition. She and her children went to the Omaha Children’s Museum before heading to the Mounted Patrol Barn.
“The kids always love to come down and check out the Children’s Museum and the horses at the police barn,” Jamin said. “We’ve been coming for probably the last three or four years.”
Volunteers, like Amy Reimer, helped staff festival locations. Reimer is also a volunteer at the Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy (HETRA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of children and adults of all ability levels through equine assisted activities.
Reimer received a call from a friend asking if she’d be interested in helping at the patrol barn during the festival. She said yes.
“I thought it’d be a great way to spend more time with horses,” she said.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE), presenting sponsor for the Omaha Holiday Lights Festival, had volunteers of its own spreading cheer as part of 12 Days of Fearless, an initiative to give back to the community and make the holidays even more special through 12 fun activities, contests and treats.
Dressed in blue Santa hats, BCBSNE employees and a few of their family members handed out gifts as Secret Santas.
BCBSNE employee Michael Curry volunteered to be a Secret Santa at the Omaha Children’s Museum where he handed out water bottles and gift cards to Spaghetti Works and Hardy Coffee Co. as well as a free membership to the museum.
“For me, the holidays aren’t just about giving gifts, but also about giving my time and service to others,” Curry said. “The museum was simply amazing and seeing all of the kids having an incredible time was phenomenal.”
Curry most enjoyed gifting the free membership to a family.
“It was pure appreciation, and there was no denying the joy,” he said. “Even better, the family was smiling and waving at us through the window while we were walking down the stairs. My heart was completely full.”
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