Family-Friendly Events this Weekend in Omaha {4/17 – 4/20/14}

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Family Friendly Events in Omaha | Family Fun in Omaha

Enjoy many family-friendly events this weekend! It is always a good idea to verify with the business before visiting. [Not the current week? See more Upcoming Events in Omaha here!]

For more ideas on family fun, visit the Omaha Kids Calendarand keep updated by Following Family Fun in Omaha on Facebook or Signing up for our Free Email Newsletter!

Enter to Win:

2 Gift Certificates to Kidz Cook with Joy! - NEW!

  • Enter to win 2 Gift Certificates – one for your child and one for a friend or sibling! The gift certificates are valid for a Cooking Class, Kidz Night Out, or Paint N Pour at Kidz Cook with Joy!  Valid through August 2014. ($40-$50 Value!)

Easter Events this Weekend:

Omaha Area Easter Egg Hunts | Family Fun in Omaha

Omaha Area Easter Egg Hunts and Activities

  • Find details on MANY events happening this weekend!

Earth Day Events this Weekend:

Earth and ArborDay Events around Omaha | Family Fun in Omaha

Party for the Planet at the Omaha’s Zoo & Aquarium - 4/19, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

  • Celebrate Earth Day and discover ways you can help save our planet. There will be family fun activities for the whole family to enjoy, including Omaha Street Percussion performing music on recycled trash cans and buckets! Event activities are free to members or with regular paid Zoo admission.

Earth Day Omaha – 4/19, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., FREE

  • The free event features exhibit booths, children’s activities, demonstrations and short speaker sessions, plus live music from top local bands and food from area vendors. All activities are designed to educate and inspire attendees to live green and healthy at home and at work.
  • Climb A State Champion Tree at Earth Day – 4/19, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Drum Craft at Abrahams Branch – 4/19, 11 a.m.

  • Create and decorate a drum using recycled materials (provided by the Library) to beat during the puppet show. Yours to keep!

Find more Earth Day and Arbor Day Events coming next week!

Other Picks this Weekend:

FULL - Hands-on-Habitat at Fontenelle Forest – 4/18

  • The April event is FULL.  Sign up now for the May Event: May 16 – How to Make a Flower!  (Pre-registration FREE with code ParentSavvy)
  • ParentSavvy and Fontenelle Forest are providing these special educational, hands-on classes for pre-school age children and parents.

FREE Crafts for Kids at Lakeshore Learning Store – 4/19, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

  • Make a Sunny Days Light Catcher!

Dia del Niño at El Museo Latino - 4/19, 12 – 2 p.m., FREE

  • Hands-on activities, music and dance, games and balloons, free books, and more!

Mark Your Calendars:

Nebraska Science Festival – 4/24 – 4/27

  • Mark your calendars – The NE SciFest is coming April 24-27! Activities are planned for science fans of all ages including rocket launches, printing press tours, hands-on science experiments, an electric car display, ice cream tour, and planetarium shows at 20 participating sites. Several events have FREE or discounted admission with SciFest ticket.

OPD Salute to Safety Expo at Westroads Mall – 4/26, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., FREE

  • Bring the whole family out for a free day of learning and fun-filled activities and meet your local first responders! The event will also offer free child ID kits, free bike helmets (ages 5-12 accompanied by an adult), free t-shirts for kids to design, a prescription drug take-back station (bring in your unused or unneeded medications), face painting, clowns, balloons, and many more hands-on activities. The north parking lot will host a variety of emergency vehicles and live demonstrations.

NEW Oak View Mall Kid’s Club – 4/29, 10:30 a.m., FREE

  • Oak View Mall is partnering with Joslyn Art Museum to offer a new Free Kids Club! It will be held on the last Tuesday of every month from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. on the Lower Level near JCPenney, with the next event April 29th!

Lewis and Clark Kite Flying Festival – 5/3, 2 – 5 p.m., FREE

  • Stunt kite flying, create and fly a kite, bounce house and face painting, art projects, rope making, family activity booths, plus more!

We do our best to share current information in Family Fun in Omaha, but event details may change. It is always a good idea to verify the information before visiting.

Have a wonderful fun-filled weekend!

Cooking Fun at Kidz Cook with Joy + Giveaway!

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Food, fun, cooking, and healthy habits all rolled into one! What began as a few home cooking parties, Joy has turned her passion into helping kids and the community!

Kidz Cook with Joy offers fun, hands-on cooking lessons for children and young adults, plus Scouts classes, children’s cooking Birthday Parties, Kidz Night Out, Kidz Paint N Pour, Field Trips, and Summer Cooking Camps for ages 3 all the way up to Teen!

Celebrate with their Grand Opening

Kidz Cook with Joy will celebrate their Grand Opening at their new location in the Old Ralston Granary. Guests will be able to enter in to a raffle for FREE parties, classes, and summer camps! For the kids, there will be $4 “Make your own Treat”, for the parents, there will be complimentary snacks and drinks.

Kidz Cook with Joy Grand Opening Celebration
Sunday April 27th 1 – 4 p.m.
Our Kidz Cooking Studio, in the Old Ralston Granary
7409 Main Street Suite #7, Ralston

Fun Classes

Each class has a special cooking theme and includes safety in the kitchen, and dining etiquette, while preparing and cooking foods. Some classes are divided by age groups: Mondays, ages 6-9; Tuesdays, ages 3-5; and Thursdays, ages 10-Teen; and some are special events for all ages.

See Class Schedule here, including a Start Your Own Garden Classes on Saturday mornings for all ages. They will take home their starter plant to put in the ground and learn a recipe they can use at home.

Birthday Parties

How fun - Make-Your-Own Pizza Party! As a special bonus, while the pizzas are cooking and setting, your whole party will get their own cupcake to decorate! Plus, they also offer a new On-the-Go Cupcake Decorating Station where they bring the fun to you!

Special Events

Kidz Night Out – 4/18, 6 -8 p.m. + more

  • Egg Fun using Natural Foods and some Spring-themed Foods. Bring your Easter basket we will fill it up and your belly.
  • $19.99 per student  Ages 5 and up.

Kidz Paint N Pour – 5/9, 6 – 7:30 p.m. + more

  • Kids will have fun mixing Food and Art! Ages 5-11.
  • $25.00/child

Make Treats for NE Humane Society – 5/17, 1 – 2 & 3 – 4 p.m.

  • Joy loves giving back to the community! Join Kidz Cook with Joy in making a difference in the lives of the shelter animals by mixing up, rolling out and making fresh dog treats for the Nebraska Humane Society. All ages. Your child will learn some basic cooking techniques, along with helping our community.
  • $15.00 (They also ask that you bring a can of Vienna Sausage or Canned Chicken to donate, if possible)

Too Cool for School Summer Camp - 6/16 – 6/18, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

  • Ages 6-10. At this yummy camp, kids will be mixing up some art projects, and yummy recipes that include homemade ice cream, grilled lemon basil chicken and many other tasty treats!

Etiquette for Ages 10 to Teen Summer Camp – 7/21-7/22, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

  • While please and thank yous are a main topic for this course, we also focus on internet etiquette, bullying, kindness and sportmanship.  Fun and popular class! Snacks will be provided. 

Giveaway: Win 2 Gift Certificates for a Cooking Class, Kidz Night Out, or Paint N Pour at Kidz Cook with Joy!KidzCookwithJoyGiveaway-14-2

One lucky Family Fun in Omaha reader will win 2 Gift Certificates – one for your child and one for a friend or sibling! The gift certificates are valid for a Cooking Class, Kidz Night Out, or Paint N Pour at Kidz Cook with Joy!  Valid through August 2014. ($40-$50 Value!)

TO ENTER:

  • Simply enter through Rafflecopter below by signing in with your Facebook account or with your name and email address.
  • Earn additional entries as described.

THANK YOU FOR ENTERING AND GOOD LUCK!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

GIVEAWAY ENDS: SundayApril 27, 2014, 11:59 p.m., CST.

OTHER: Entrants must be 19 or older and located in the US only.  The winner will be selected using Rafflecopter and notified via email.  Winner must respond within 48 hours to claim their prize, or another winner will be chosen.  Duplicate entries will be deleted.

Disclosure: Many thanks to Kidz Cook with Joy who provided the gift certificates for the giveaway, and for being a long-term supporter of Family Fun in Omaha. All opinions are my own. See disclosure and privacy policy here.  This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

Other Helpful Resources:

Earth Day and Arbor Day Events Around Omaha 2014

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Earth and ArborDay Events around Omaha | Family Fun in Omaha

Celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day (which started right here in Nebraska!) with many activities and events!

For more ideas on family fun, visit the Omaha Kids Calendarand keep updated by Following Family Fun in Omaha on Facebook or Signing up for our Free Email Newsletter!

Party for the Planet at the Omaha’s Zoo & Aquarium - 4/19, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

  • Celebrate Earth Day and discover ways you can help save our planet. There will be family fun activities for the whole family to enjoy, including Omaha Street Percussion performing music on recycled trash cans and buckets! Event activities are free to members or with regular paid Zoo admission.

Earth Day Omaha – 4/19, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., FREE

  • The free event features exhibit booths, children’s activities, demonstrations and short speaker sessions, plus live music from top local bands and food from area vendors. All activities are designed to educate and inspire attendees to live green and healthy at home and at work.
  • Climb A State Champion Tree at Earth Day – 4/19, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Drum Craft at Abrahams Branch – 4/19, 11 a.m.

  • Create and decorate a drum using recycled materials (provided by the Library) to beat during the puppet show. Yours to keep! 

Earth Day Treasure Hunt at Pottery Barn Kids – 4/21 – 4/27

  • Join in this eco-inspired treasure hunt and explore the store for green clues and fun facts. Those who find them all can make everyday Earth Day with a plantable bookmark!

Earth Day at Florence Community Center – 4/22

  • Stop in anytime during the day to learn about Terra Cycling, and make a craft out of recycled materials.

Incredible Edible Landfill at Millard Branch – 4/22, 4 p.m., Registration required, Ages 7-12

  • Come explore recycling in a fun (and tasty) way! Participants will use pudding, candy, cookies, cereal, and other tasty treats to create an edible landfill.

Celebrate Arbor Day at La Vista Community Center – 4/24, 10 a.m.

  • Come for an outdoor story time and Arbor Day tree planting followed by Preschool Playtime in the gym! There will be a special gift for all children who attend. No registration required.

142nd Annual Arbor Day Celebration in Nebraska City – 4/25-4/27

  • Celebrate the 142nd anniversary of the tree planter’s holiday where it all began – in Nebraska City, Nebraska. The entire community will mark the internationally-celebrated holiday from April 25-27, 2014, with a 5k/10k run/walk, parade, chili cook-off, home and garden show, and more.

Arbor Day Family Celebration at Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure – 4/26-4/27

  • Special Arbor Day events at the Tree Adventure include tree climbing, cross-cut sawing, face painting, hands-on crafts for children, live music, and other fun activities for all ages.

Arbor Day Family Activities at Lauritzen Gardens – 4/26, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

  • Enjoy a variety of tree-themed educational activities designed for families to learn about a variety of tree topics. The first 100 households will receive a FREE tree seedling! This event is included with regular garden admission and is free for garden members.

Sarpy County Earth Day – 4/27, 12 – 4 p.m.

  • Earth Day Celebration will feature a 5K run/walk and 1 mile walk fundraiser, plus exhibitors, youth events, food and demonstrations.

Freebies 

Free Entrance Days in the National Parks - 4/19-4/20

Opening weekend of National Park Week. Over 100 national parks that usually charge entrance fees are offering free entrance. Find Participating Parks (By State).

It is always a good idea to verify with the business before visiting.  If you know of a Family Event happening to celebrate Earth Day or Arbor Day, please leave a comment below or contact us to be added!

Have a wonderful celebration!

Family-Friendly Events this Weekend in Omaha {4/10 – 4/13/14}

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Family Friendly Events in Omaha | Family Fun in Omaha

Enjoy many family-friendly events this weekend! It is always a good idea to verify with the business before visiting. [Not the current week? See more Upcoming Events in Omaha here!]

For more ideas on family fun, visit the Omaha Kids Calendarand keep updated by Following Family Fun in Omaha on Facebook or Signing up for our Free Email Newsletter!

Don’t Miss:

  • Easter Egg Hunts and Activities  - Many happening this weekend!
  • Fish Fries and Pasta Dinners - LAST ONE this Friday, 4/11!
  • Summer Camps - Browse 50+ camps divided into The Arts, Academic Camps, Outdoor Fun, Specialty Camps, and Sports Camps! Featured This Week:
    • Scuba Rangers at DiVentures - Kids learn the knowledge and skills necessary to be a safe diver. Initial Scuba Rangers training is separated into five steps and involves swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving techniques. Two sessions coming this June!
    • Miracle Hill Jr. Golf Programs - Your little golfer can learn to golf this summer in their Jr. Golf Camp and League, or play with you in the parent-child golf league! Plus, check out Family Fun Sundays: After 3, Kids play Free with paid adult, and all day on the practice tee, get a FREE Kids bucket with adult purchase of large or jumbo bucket.

Great Deals:

Top Picks this Weekend:

International Omaha Indoor Horse Jumping Competition – 4/11-4/12, Some FREE Events

  • The International Omaha will host free daytime jumping competitions and family fun activities including a free expo, shopping, food, music and fun.

Things that Go at the Omaha Children’s Museum – Ends 4/13

  • It’s the last weekend of the traveling exhibit, Things That Go! Tying in with Science Month, enjoy themed activities throughout the museum all about physics and fun experiments!

Leo Lionni’s Frederick at The Rose Theater – 3/28 – 4/13

  • Enjoy the world premiere of Leo Lionni’s classic children’s book, Frederick. Frederick is a sweet and gentle musical geared for ages 3-8.

Family Movie Night at Salvation Army Kroc Center – 4/11, 6 p.m., FREE

  • Family Movie Night: VeggieTales: Twas the Night Before Easter

Omaha Area Easter Egg Hunts and Activities – MANY this weekend!

Here is a sampling of many going on this weekend!  Find further details and more listed here!

April 12th (see many more here)

  • Party Pals Easter Egg Hunt – Rambleridge Park, 114th & Fort, 4/12, 10:30 a.m.
  • Easter Begg Hunt at Turner Park for Dogs – 4/12, 1 p.m., $5.00 registration fee per dog
  • Papillion Egg Hunt at Halleck Park with Real Princesses Omaha – 4/12, 1 – 3 p.m., 12 & under, FREE
  • Easter Extravaganza at Downtown YMCA (All ages) – 4/12, 1 – 3 p.m., Member/ Non Member: FREE

April 13th (see many more here)

  • Easter Family Fun Day & Zip Line Egg Drop at Camp Fontanelle – 4/13, 2 – 6 p.m., Free will donation ($10-$15 for zipline)
  • Easter EGGstravaganza at Salvation Army Kroc Center – 4/13, 2 – 4 p.m.
  • Camelot Family Easter Egg Hunt – 4/13, 2 – 4 p.m. (2: Games and Crafts, 3:30: Hunt Begins!), FREE
  • Easter Egg Hunt at Montclair Pool – 4/13, 2 – 3 p.m., Pool Admission Special of $2/person
  • KinderNature: Carrots & Cottontails at Hitchcock Nature Center – 4/13, 1:30 p.m., $5/child, Ages 3-5 years accompanied by an adult

Kicks for A Cure – 4/12, FREE

  • Enjoy Free soccer for a great cause! Kicks for a Cure will be held at Morrison Stadium with local high school teams during the day, plus: 5:00 pm – Creighton Women vs Drake, 7:00 pm – Creighton Men vs Marquette.

Discovery Day at all Omaha Community Centers – 4/12, FREE

  • Each center is offering refreshments, free activities, and a chance to find out about all of the great opportunities available. Registration for summer camps, swim lessons and more will be open at all centers & online at this Sat. Discovery Day! Hours and activities vary at each Community Center.

Hummel Spring Discovery Day – 4/12, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., FREE

  • Enjoy the spring weather with a guided hike, fun activities in the Nature Center and even make your own s’more! Refreshments provided. All ages welcome.

Spring Safety Event and Bike Expo, Plattsmouth Community Center – 4/12, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

  • Bring your bike for the bike rodeo (weather permitting), Scooter races for ages 16 and under, Interactive safety games, and more!

Lowe’s Build and Grow – 4/12, 10 a.m., FREE

  • Build a Recycling Truck! Register online.

Family Fun Day at Joslyn Art Museum – 4/13, 1 – 4 p.m., FREE

  • Fun-filled, FREE events for children and families featuring Poseidon and the Sea: Myth, Cult, and Daily Life.

Arts For All In The Mall, Oak View Mall  - 4/13, 1 – 4 p.m., FREE

  • Located on the lower level in JCPenney Court, there will be several mini-lesson stations available for attendees, including painting, guitar, ballet, filmmaking, cartooning and piano. Each session is about ten minutes in length and allows children the ability to get a taste of different arts mediums and perhaps stir interest in the arts.

Mark Your Calendars:

Hands-on-Habitat at Fontenelle Forest – 4/18, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., Pre-registration FREE with code ParentSavvy

  • ParentSavvy and Fontenelle Forest are providing these special educational, hands-on classes for pre-school age children and parents. Pre-register with promo code “ParentSavvy” for free admission!
    • April 18 – Our Pond Pals!

Climb A State Champion Tree at Earth Day – 4/19, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

  • Climb a state champion tree at Earth Day Omaha at Elmwood Park!

Nebraska Science Festival – 4/24 – 4/27

  • Mark your calendars – The NE SciFest is coming April 24-27! Activities are planned for science fans of all ages including rocket launches, printing press tours, hands-on science experiments, an electric car display, ice cream tour, and planetarium shows at 20 participating sites. Several events have FREE or discounted admission with SciFest ticket.

OPD Salute to Safety Expo at Westroads Mall – 4/26, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., FREE

  • Bring the whole family out for a free day of learning and fun-filled activities and meet your local first responders! The event will also offer free child ID kits, free bike helmets (ages 5-12 accompanied by an adult), free t-shirts for kids to design, a prescription drug take-back station (bring in your unused or unneeded medications), face painting, clowns, balloons, and many more hands-on activities. The north parking lot will host a variety of emergency vehicles and live demonstrations.

NEW Oak View Mall Kid’s Club – 4/29, 10:30 a.m., FREE

  • Oak View Mall is partnering with Joslyn Art Museum to offer a new Free Kids Club! It will be held on the last Tuesday of every month from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. on the Lower Level near JCPenney, with the next event April 29th!

Lewis and Clark Kite Flying Festival – 5/3, 2 – 5 p.m., FREE

  • Stunt kite flying, create and fly a kite, bounce house and face painting, art projects, rope making, family activity booths, plus more!

We do our best to share current information in Family Fun in Omaha, but event details may change. It is always a good idea to verify the information before visiting.

Have a wonderful fun-filled weekend!

Family-Friendly Events this Weekend in Omaha {4/3 – 4/6/14}

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Family Friendly Events in Omaha | Family Fun in Omaha

Enjoy many family-friendly events this weekend! It is always a good idea to verify with the business before visiting. [Not the current week? See more Upcoming Events in Omaha here!]

For more ideas on family fun, visit the Omaha Kids Calendarand keep updated by Following Family Fun in Omaha on Facebook or Signing up for our Free Email Newsletter!

Don’t Miss:

  • Easter Egg Hunts and Activities  - Many new events added!
  • Fish Fries and Pasta Dinners - With Interactive Map!
  • Summer Camps - Browse 50+ camps divided into The Arts, Academic Camps, Outdoor Fun, Specialty Camps, and Sports Camps! Featured This Week:
    • The Arts: Create, perform, and draw this summer with fun Camps for The Arts at The Rose Theater, Smiling Turtle Art Spot, The Durham Museum, and more!

Great Deals:

Top Picks this Weekend:

Opening Day of Omaha Storm Chasers – 4/3

  • 4/4 – Friday Fireworks
  • 4/6 - Hy-Vee Canned Food Sunday: Bring two (2) cans of Hy-vee Branded Canned Food an receive a FREE McDonald’s Berm Ticket.
  • PLUS, save 50% of your Lil Chasers Membership (Free McDonald’s Berm Ticket and Entrance to Centris Family Fun Zone on Sunday and Wednesday Games, plus more) when you sign up for ParentSavvy newsletter!  First game is Sunday, 4/6!

U.S National Robotics Competition at Salvation Army Kroc Center – 4/4 – 4/5, FREE

  • Free and open to the public! Watch the top Robotics teams from across the nation compete in the U.S. National Robotics Competition and cheer on our home-town teams!
    • Friday, April 4: 8:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
    • Saturday, April 5: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Leo Lionni’s Frederick at The Rose Theater – 3/28 – 4/13

  • Enjoy the world premiere of Leo Lionni’s classic children’s book, Frederick. Frederick is a sweet and gentle musical geared for ages 3-8.

First Friday Family Date Night at Omaha Children’s Museum – 4/4, 4 – 8 p.m.

  • Stay late and play until eight on the first Friday of each month during winter hours. Enjoy themed activities and tons of fun for the whole family!
    • April 4: Mad Science Night

Pajamarama With the Cat in the Hat at Barnes & Noble Oakview – 4/4, 7 p.m.

  • Put on your PJs and join us for some Cat in the Hat fun! We will read the classic story and enjoy some feline photographs with our very tall-hatted friend.

FREE Kids Workshops at Home Depot – 4/5, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

  • FREE hands-on workshops; designed for children ages 5 – 12. Build a Birdbath/Birdfeeder from the new FOX film, “Rio 2″.

Teddy Bear Weekend at the Omaha Zoo – 4/5-4/6, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., FREE for children, 3-12, with stuffed animal

  • Children, ages 3-12, who bring in their favorite stuffed animal will receive FREE admission to the Zoo.
  • Bring your favorite stuffed animal to Omaha Zoo for repair and care. Your animal will go through a check up, including height, heartbeat, ear and eye exams and, if needed, a trip to the emergency room (9 a.m. – 1 p.m.). There will be music and activity stations for everyone to enjoy.

Lanoha Nurseries Idea Spring Event – 4/5, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., FREE

  • Join us for a day of Spring Ideas and Family Fun! Free food and activities for adults and children.
  • FREE Kids Activity: From 1-4, bring your kids in to show their creativity and paint their own flower pots!

Family Fun Swim at Montclair and Mockingbird Pools – 4/5, 1 – 4 p.m.

  • Family of Four can swim for $4.

Celebrate Week of the Young Child at Omaha Children’s Museum – 4/5, 6 – 9 p.m., FREE with flyer

  • Families with young children are invited to come to the Omaha Children’s Museum for FREE (must have flyer) on Saturday, April 5th from 6 – 9 p.m. to kick off the Week of the Young Child, which is April 6-12, 2014.
  • Families MUST arrive with flyer to enter the event -> More Information

The Harlem Globetrotters 2014 Tour – 4/5, 7 p.m.

  • The 2014 “Fans Rule” World Tour will bring their exciting energy to the CenturyLink Center. This year, they are continuing last year’s success of allowing fans to choose the cool new rules that will be used in the actual game!

All Aboard! with The Omaha Symphony – 4/6, 2 p.m.

  • Get ready for a musical adventure that will take you over the plains, across the world, and into the far reaches of outer space. Featuring stunning images and video. This is part of the Omaha Symphony Family Series. Be sure to come early for fun lobby activities!

Family Skate at Motto McLean Ice Arena - 4/6, 3:30 – 5:45 p.m., $10

  • Cost: $10.00 for family of 4, $3.00 for additional person. Includes: Admission, skate rentals, and drink.

Mark Your Calendars:

Tots on the Towne at Shadow Lake Towne Center – 4/10, 10:30 and 11:30 a.m, FREE, Reservations req’d

  • A Pirate Show: Come enjoy an hour of fun during our April Tots on the Towne event hosted by First National Bank! Come learn to sing, dance and talk like a pirate!
  • Reservations are required for this event. Call the Shadow Lake Management Office at 402.537.0046 for more information.

International Omaha Indoor Horse Jumping Competition – 4/11-4/12, Some FREE Events

  • The International Omaha will host free daytime jumping competitions and family fun activities including a free expo, shopping, food, music and fun.

Climb A State Champion Tree at Earth Day – 4/19, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

  • Climb a state champion tree at Earth Day Omaha at Elmwood Park!

Nebraska Science Festival – 4/24 – 4/27

  • Mark your calendars – The NE SciFest is coming April 24-27! Activities are planned for science fans of all ages including rocket launches, printing press tours, hands-on science experiments, an electric car display, ice cream tour, and planetarium shows at 20 participating sites. Several events have FREE or discounted admission with SciFest ticket.

OPD Salute to Safety Expo at Westroads Mall – 4/26, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., FREE

  • Bring the whole family out for a free day of learning and fun-filled activities and meet your local first responders! The event will also offer free child ID kits, free bike helmets (ages 5-12 accompanied by an adult), free t-shirts for kids to design, a prescription drug take-back station (bring in your unused or unneeded medications), face painting, clowns, balloons, and many more hands-on activities. The north parking lot will host a variety of emergency vehicles and live demonstrations.

NEW Oak View Mall Kid’s Club – 4/29, 10:30 a.m., FREE

  • Oak View Mall is partnering with Joslyn Art Museum to offer a new Free Kids Club! It will be held on the last Tuesday of every month from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. on the Lower Level near JCPenney, with the next event April 29th!

We do our best to share current information in Family Fun in Omaha, but event details may change. It is always a good idea to verify the information before visiting.

Have a wonderful fun-filled weekend!

Guest Post: Crane Watch is Great Day Trip

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Today, we welcome Tim and Lisa Trudell, of The Walking Tourists!

Kearney, NE, is ground zero for one of the most beautiful scenes a person can view in their lifetime. The northern migration of the Sandhill Crane is a life-altering experience.

More than 500,000 cranes – about 75% of the world’s population – will visit a 75-mile stretch of the Platte River valley in central Nebraska during a 6-8 week period. This act has taken place for centuries. The Sandhill Crane is believed to be about 10 million-years-old as a species.

They come to this region to rest and build their strength for the rest of their trip. They will eat vegetation and worms in area farm fields. The cranes come to the area from their winter stops – including California, Florida, Texas and Mexico. Once rested and energy restored, they will continue their northerly migrations to places in Alaska, the northern contiguous United States, Canada and Siberia.

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The fact that this historic migration takes place about 2 ½ hours from Omaha makes this a must-do day trip. We took our first visit to the area in the late 1990s. I’d always wanted to visit Kearney during the crane season. We finally did it. We jumped in the car early one morning and headed to central Nebraska.

People come from all around the world to view the cranes. Famous people visit, as well. Famed primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall has visited numerous times. National news media outlets, including NBC and CBS, have recently visited for stories.

We were so amazed at the view of these majestic creatures. An adult crane stands about 2-4 feet tall and has gray plumage. Its head has a crimson crown.

crane5

They are very timid birds, so be aware of that. They will quietly and quickly move away from humans. As you drive up to view a group, they may seem close, but within seconds you realize they have moved several feet away.

They are allowed to be hunted in nine of the 10 states that make up the Central Flyway. Nebraska is the only state in the region where hunting Sandhill Cranes is prohibited. You can understand why the birds are skittish of humans. A good pair of binoculars and a camera will give you a decent view of the birds.

Since the Nebraska migration season is a short one – usually mid-February to the first weekend in April – you have to roll the dice with your visit. The weather may cooperate and you get a beautiful, sunny and warm day to visit. Ok, I tried to type that with a straight face. Due to the time of the year, it could be chilly and gray. But, we’ve also had our fair share of beautiful weather.

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Cranes can be found in almost any farm field in the region as far east as Grand Island and as far west as North Platte. The bulk of cranes will be seen in the Kearney area. That’s why it’s known as the “Crane Capital of the World.”

During our recent visit, there were a reported 180,000 in the area. You will see the birds in different sized groups. There may be a large group eating and flying together; or, you may see a smaller group. You may even see a couple or family by themselves. Cranes mate for life, so it’s common to see groups of 2-4 eating. It’s likely the parents and children.

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Rowe Sanctuary (www.rowe.audubon.org) is a great place to visit. The staff can answer questions and provide advice on crane watching.

There is etiquette to crane watching. A few tips for crane watching are offered by http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/:

  • Do not approach cranes on foot while they are in fields. Cranes do not tolerate humans.
  • Stay in your car and use it as a blind.
  • Use appropriate locations for viewing the cranes on the river. Do not attempt to approach or otherwise disturb cranes on the river.
  • Never approach a whooping crane. Flushing a whooping crane violates the Endangered Species Act. Stay in your car. View guidelines to avoid harassing whooping cranes.

Many paved and gravel roads traverse the area, and traffic travels fast. While driving to crane viewing areas, observe the following rules:

  • Do not slow or stop on the road. Drive onto the shoulder.
  • Never slow down or stop on bridges.
  • Never block a driveway or any other farm road.
  • Most land adjacent to the river and all of the agricultural fields are private property, so visitors should:
  • Stay on county roads. Do not drive on farm roads.
  • Assume all property is private and obtain owner permission before entering.
  • Never cross a fence or open a cattle gate without the owner’s permission.
  • Do not disturb farm animals, cross cropland or touch farm equipment. Respect the rights of the people who live in the area.

Rowe offers crane viewing tours. You can reserve a spot in a riverside blind for evening viewing as the cranes come in for the night. It’s a reasonable fee and you can learn more about it on their website.

We took the tour a couple of years ago. It was fascinating! We followed a guide out to a set of concrete blinds where we were able to watch the cranes fly in for the night.

Dress warm – layers. Don’t forget the gloves at home (like this writer). Cranes spend the night on sandbars in the Platte River and surrounding area tributaries. This is actually for their protection. Predators – coyotes, foxes, etc. – will wade through the water to get to the birds. The four-legged creatures splash water, and the noise alerts the birds. They’ll fly away for safety.

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As you stand in the blind, you see them land. One bird may land on a sand bar. Then another. Before you know it, hundreds of cranes are on a sand bar. They’ll repeat this until all the birds are in for the night.

Watching them come in for the night is a major reason to visit the area. They are almost synchronized on what time to head in for nesting, following a day of eating in area farm fields.

Around sunset, the sky will fill with thousands of birds flying and sounding off. The crane’s sound is unique. It’s a bugle sound, according to www.allaboutbirds.org. They last about two seconds and can be strung together. A crane call can be heard up to 2.5 miles away.

The Crane Trust near Wood River, NE, also offers crane viewing. The center is just off Interstate 80 at Exit 305. For more information, please visit its website at www.naturenebraska.org.

However, you don’t have to pay to see the cranes fly in for the night. There is an observation deck along the Platte River, just a few miles south of the Gibbon exit.

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Hundreds of people will fill the area about an hour before sunset, prepping for the evening descent. Watching the birds fly overhead is a great sight to take in. They are graceful in the sky. Thousands of them will fly in as you watch from the deck. If the sky is clear, you can see dark spots miles upriver in the hue of the sunset. It’s a special feeling.

Last year, our daughter’s best friend took in the trip for the first time. She left amazed at the experience. This year, we ran into the cold and gray that comes with late winter and early spring. The only thing that was truly affected was the evening viewing. We still saw the birds fly in. But, we didn’t have the color that comes with the sunset.

It was a cold, snowy evening. So, that kept some people from the viewing stand. We still had a decent turnout – maybe 40-50 people.

Doing a “Crane Watch” is a great way to spend a day. You just have to realize that it will be a long day trip. But, it is so worth it. Once you see the thousands of Sandhill Cranes, you will fall in love with the experience and want to make the trip west again.

Plan accordingly when you go. Bring coats, jackets, gloves and hats. Also, plan your meals accordingly. There are restaurants in the area, but you will need to go into Kearney or Grand Island. Bringing meals may be an idea. If you decide to spend the night, the area has a lot of nice hotels. We usually do a day trip, but have made the trip an overnight one.

Regardless, a day trip to central Nebraska for crane viewing can be a life change. Enjoy your visit.

We love traveling – locally, regionally, nationally and internationally (not as often as we would like). We originally started The Walking Tourist to share our experiences with friends and family. Whether it’s across the world or in our own backyard in Omaha, Nebraska, we love to explore the sites and experiences all around us. Check out more of Lisa and Tim’s travels at The Walking Tourists!