Omaha Magazine - Nov/Dec 2022 - The Fentanyl Issue

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Hello dear readers, familiar and fresh. This is Omaha Magazine associate editor Julius Fredrick, and I extend to you my sincerest gratitude for pausing here to read my inaugural editor’s letter a gracious task, given the strength of content found in the proceeding pages.

While the team at Omaha Magazine prides itself on providing readers a much-needed breath from the bleak churn of the modern news cycle highlighting and celebrating the good and goodwill that distinguishes the metro as a place of integrity, enterprise, and many an unsung talent once a year, we tackle a big, sometimes frightening, and often heartbreaking story unfolding within ou r community.

Our main feature this issue addresses the deadly fentanyl epidemic: a national crisis that’s breached Nebraska’s “heartland” insulation with devastating impact. Calling on a wide, yet authoritative pool of individ uals both within, and well beyond, the margins of jurisprudence we aim to illuminate this complex issue via thorough and multi-faceted investigation. Local and federal law enforcement outline their efforts to curb fentanyl trafficking and overdoses, while medical professionals trace its genesis, proliferation, and unique challenges regarding treatment.

On the other side of the law, we speak with an overdose survivor as he recounts his near-death experience with fentanyl-induced oblivion, and a repentant, if not cautionary, drug dealer. Finally, we call on a bereaved, frustrated father who lost his son to a fentanyl overdose just this past June. While the story is alarming by nature, we strive to to paint a clearer picture of the crisis through the perspective of these disparate yet inter connected individuals each reckoning in their own way with Omaha’s rising fentanyl flood, and trying to stay afloat in its wake.

On a lighter note, our arts and culture section turns the spotlight toward inspired and inspiring members of the community including award-win ning documentarian Dan Napoli, rising pop starlet HARLOW, and cre atively reenergized Oglala Lakota painter, Nathaniel Ruleaux. Meanwhile, our dining feature pays homage to Omaha staple Cascio’s, and how the family-owned steakhouse continues to adapt and fill seats through 76 years in business.

As for 60+, we usher in the holiday season with a profile on “Santa Bob,” a professional St. Nick who managed to weather the pandemic’s freeze on parties and events and emerge jollier than ever. Additionally, we highlight retired IT professional for Nebraska Medicine, Louise Foster, as she fully invests in the right hemisphere of her brain pursuing a dream career as a “cozy” murder-mystery novelist, releasing six thrillers in quick succession.

Lastly, I’d like to issue a correction in regards to our October music profile on punk outfit Stronghold: the names of the current and previous drum mers are Tim “Twig” Lorence and Ryan “Emmy” Emswiler, respectively. It’s true, drummers really never receive their proper respect, do they? Check out the amended version online at omaham

Well, that’s it from me. If you made it this far, thank you again for humoring me and thank you for your continued support of Omaha Magazine remarkable people of Omaha and your stories, that make it all worthwhile. And remember, through tragedy and triumph alike it’s about all of us.

*Note: The hotel edition of Omaha Magazine has a different cover and does not include all of the editorial content included in the magazine’s full city edition. For more information on our city edition, visit

FEATURES THE USUAL SUSPECTS 003 From the Editor Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Oblivion 006 Between the Lines 007 Calendar of Events 026 Adventure Electric Lineman Nick Roenfeld 038 History Dickens in the Market 065 Obviously Omaha Dance Venues 082 Explore! 087 Instagram 088 Not Funny I Have a Friend ARTS + CULTURE 014 Music Singer/songwriter HARLOW 018 Theater The Rose’s Zoella Sneed 020 Film Hurrdat Films’ Dan Napoli 022 Visual Art Painter Nathaniel Ruleaux PEOPLE 040 Profile Mental Health Podcaster Angee Stevens 042 Sports Nebraska Pearls’ Cherylle Leffall 044 Gen O Volunteer Emma Boyd GIVING 048 Calendar 054 Profile Nebraska Wildlife Rehab’s Scott Hansen 028 034 A FATAL CUT The Human Cost of Omaha’s Fentanyl Flood WORLD VIEW, LOCAL GROUND Author Chigozie Obioma 028 QR // 4 // NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022 TABLE of CONTENTS QR QR

have worsened the prognosis of the “Opioid Epidemic”— synthesizing, distributing, and cutting cheaper, more potent narcotics in what’s been described as the deadly ‘third wave’ of the ongoing crisis. For scale, the quan tity of fentanyl displayed on this issue’s cover is at least several times the amount required for a fatal overdose.

DISCOVER VIDEOS AND ONLINE EXTRAS for select content in this issue. LOCATE A QR CODE PRINTED IN THIS ISSUE. Make sure you have internet access. OPEN THE CAMERA APP IN YOUR SMART DEVICE. Newer smartphones/tablets come with capability to scan QR codes. POINT AT THE QR CODE. A link will appear. Click on it. Step Step Step ENJOY YOUR EXPERIENCE. Watch, click, shop, explore! Step 60PLUS IN OMAHA 058 Nostalgia Lo Sole Mio Restaurant Memories 060 Active Living “Santa” Bob Gleisberg 063 Profile Mystery Author Louise Foster DINING 066 Feature Cascio’s Steakhouse 070 Profile Chef Johnny Shi, Dragon Cafe 072 Review Charred Burger + Bar 076 Dining Guide 072 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022 // 5 // read current and previous issues online at Illicit drug


Associate Editors

Contributing Writers LEO

KIM CARPENTER Asso ciate Editor

A longtime contributor to our magazines, Carpenter joins the team as Omaha Publications’ newest associate editor. She has worked at art organizations including the Akron Art Museum and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and prior to the pandemic, covered visual artists in the Omaha World-Herald ’s weekly Art Notes column. The author of several art books and catalogues, she loves learning about artists’ processes and practices. Carpenter grew up in Pennsylvania and attended school on the East Coast, but has called Omaha home for nearly two decades and can’t imagine living anywhere else in the country. She resides in midtown with her family and their dog, Jasper, who, despite what others might say, she claims, is a very good boy. He did not contribute to the edit ing process.

BRIDGET FOGARTY Free lance Writer

Fogarty is a freelance writer making her first contribution to Omaha Magazine this issue. She works full time as a local journalist with The Reader and El Perico, the altmonthly’s bilingual sister publication, where she’s reported on immigration and education. Fogarty moved to Nebraska in June 2021 for the job via Report for America, a national service journalism program that places reporters in local newsrooms. Originally from Illinois, Fogarty earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and Spanish at Marquette University and served as an AmeriCorps volunteer in Milwaukee. When she’s not reporting, she loves taking walks to farmers markets, spending time in nature, and meeting Omahans who love their city.


Wesselmann won a Debut Dagger from the British CWA for his novel “Imp: Being the Lost Notebooks of Rufus Wilmot Griswold in the Matter of the Death of Edgar Allan Poe.” His first novel, “On the Albino Farm,” is currently being serialized on his blog, Wesselmann novel Tales of the Master (Grief Illustrated Press) was released in 2016. He has been a fixture on Omaha radio/TV for 40 years and currently hosts the morning show on Classical 90.7 FM. In September, Wesselmann was honored by the Omaha Press Club with a Face on the Barroom Floor. Despite rumors to the contrary, Wesselmann lives in the middle of North America, though he is considering moving to one o f the edges.

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ADAM BIGA · TAMSEN BUTLER · BRIDGET FOGARTY DAWN GONZALES · CHRIS HATCH · DWAIN HEBDA DAISY HUTZELL-RODMAN · ANDREA KSZYSTYNIAK · SARA LOCKE NATALIE MCGOVERN · KARA SCHWEISS DOUGLAS “OTIS TWELVE” WESSELMANN · MIKE WHYE DAVID ZORKO CREATIVE Creative Director MATT WIECZOREK Sr. Graphic Designer MADY BUBB Graphic Designer I RENEÉ LUDWICK Contributing Photographer SARA LEMKE SALES DEPARTMENT Executive Vice President Sales & Marketing GIL COHEN Branding Specialists DAWN DENNIS · GEORGE IDELMAN Contributing Branding Specialists GREG BRUNS · TIM McCORMACK Publisher’s Assistant & OmahaHome Contributing Editor SANDY MATSON Senior Sales Coordinator ALICIA HOLLINS Sales Coordinator SANDI M cCORMACK Appointment Setter HEIDI SLAUGHTER OPERATIONS Business Manager KYLE FISHER Ad Traffic Manager DAVID TROUBA Digital Manager MEGAN BARTHOLOMEW Distribution Manager DAMIAN INGERSOLL EXECUTIVE Executive Publisher TODD LEMKE Associate Publisher BILL SITZMANN For Advertising & Subscription Information : 402.884.2000 Omaha Magazine Vol 40 Issue VII, publishes monthly except February, April, August, December, totaling 8 issues by Omaha Magazine, LTD, 5921 S. 118 Circle, Omaha, NE 68137. Periodical postage at Omaha, NE, and additional offices and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Omaha Magazine, 5921 S. 118 Circle, Omaha, NE 68137 A LOOK AT THREE OMAHA MAGAZINE CONTRIBUTORS THE LINES Between // 6 // NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

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Through Jan. 8, 2023 at Durham Museum 801 S. 10th St. This costume exhibition highlights fashion from Downton Abbey, one of the most widely watched television dramas in the world. The public can view the cast’s original costumes, which depict fashions of the British aristocracy in the early 20th century and showcase the tur bulence and changes in the late Edwardian era through the 1920s. Noon-4 p.m. Sundays; 10 a.m-4 p.m Tuesdays-Saturdays. Admission: $13 adults; $10 seniors (62+); $10 military/veteran; $7 children (3-12); free for members and children 2 and under. 402.444.5071.


» Exhibits «



Through Nov. 16 at Metropolitan Community College Elkhorn Valley Campus, 829 N. 204th St., Elkhorn. The artist and educator works at the inter section of photography and bookmaking to create photographs and books that deconstruct and analyze modern perceptions of time, chaos, and order, and obsession. 9 a.m-7 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 9 a.m-5 p.m. Fridays. Admission: Free. 531.622.1301. —


Through Nov. 20 at Creighton University Lied Art Gallery, 2500 California Plaza. The mixedmedia artist’s paintings examine universal ideas of leaving home, not having a home, and searching for a place to call home. Her creative practice, which features a distinctive, architectural style, is rooted and influenced by the different places she has lived in throughout her life. 8 a.m-8 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 10 a.m-4 p.m. Saturdays and


Sundays. Admission: Free. Closing Reception: Friday, Nov. 18, 4-6 p.m. 402.280.2290. —



Through Nov. 27 at Garden of the Zodiac, 1042 Howard St. This first solo show by the artist showcases work that encompasses the media of sculpture, painting, photography, drawing, and installation. 402.341.1877. —


Through Dec. 30 at El Museo Latino, 4701South 25th St. View paintings and prints from a variety of artists from Guatemala.


Through Dec. 31 at El Museo Latino, 4701South 25th St. View a collection of photos documented along the Mexican/US border. Reserved timed viewings. 402.731.1137. —


Through Dec. at the Great Plains Black History Museum, 2221 N. 24th Street. This highlight of 107 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), tells their history and the role they have played in providing quality higher education. 1-5 p.m.Wednesdays-Saturdays. Visits by appointment. Admission: Free. 402.932.7077. —


Through Feb. 5, 2023 at KANEKO, 1111 Jones St. One of foremost American sculptors of the past century, Hunt has established himself as one of the most important and prolific “monument makers” of the past fifty years. This exhibition grounds this work within Hunt’s broader artistic practice and more critically contextualizes his tremendous contributions to the history of Amer ican sculpture over the past seventy-five years.



Through Feb. 5, 2023 at KANEKO, 1111 Jones St. Featuring a new body of work created in the exhibition space, this exhibition showcases how Rowe draws from the energy of Heyoka, the sacred clown of the Lakota. The Omaha artist’s work is participatory and opens cross-cultural dialogues through painting, casting, fiber arts, and perfor mance. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursdays. 402.341.3800.



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Through Nov. 9 at Fred Simon Gallery, 1004 Farnam St. The street photographer’s “Crossroads” project is a photographic documentary of people in the Old Market District and surrounding area. It has since become one of the largest photography projects in the world. By appointment only, 9 a.m-4 p.m. Mondays—Fridays. Admission: Free. 402.595.2122. —



Nov. through Jan. 2023 at Gallery 1516, 1516 Leavenworth St. The juried exhibition of photog raphy highlights the best photographic artwork being created in Nebraska and the states it touches, including Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Artwork was selected by this year’s judges, Diego and April Uchitel. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays; appointments preferred. Admission: Free. 402.305.1510.



Nov. 5-Nov. 28 at Hot Shops, 1301 Nicholas St. An eclectic/eccentric group show featuring both established and emerging Omaha artists. Opening reception: Saturday, Nov. 5, 6-9 p.m. 10 a.m-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 11 a.m-5 p.m. Saturdays & Sun days. Admission: Free. 402.342.6452.



Nov. 18—Jan. 11, 2023 at Fred Simon Gallery, 1004 Farnam St. Working primarily in colored pencils and painting, the artist develops works of symbolic imagery that showcases the beauty often overlooked in day-to-day life. By appointment only, 9 a.m-4 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. Admission: Free. 402.595.2122.



Wednesday, Nov. 30, 4-8 p.m.; Thursday, Dec. 1, 11:30 a.m-1:30 p.m. at Creighton University Lied Art Gallery, 2500 California Plaza. Artistic practice meets social transformation during this popular event where students create ceramic bowls for sale to the public. All proceeds benefit the Siena Francis House. Admission: Free. 402.280.2290.



Dec. 1-Jan. 6, 2023 at College of Saint Mary Hillmer Art Gallery, 7000 Mercy Rd. This show features artists who have presented in the Hillmer Art Gallery over the last 15 years. Exhibiting artists include Gary Day, Becky Herman, and Jeff Spencer. 9 a.m-7:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 9 a.m-5 p.m. Fridays; 8:30 a.m-12:30 p.m. Saturdays. Admission: Free. 402.399.2400.



Dec.8-April 16, 2023 at Bemis Center for Contem porary Arts, 724 S. 12th St. Organized by the Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM), Kley’s first solo museum show features a new body of work. Invited to print yardage utilizing FWM’s world-renowned screenprinting facilities, the artist, whose work sits at the distinctive confluence of pattern, decoration, and contemporary art, interwove her ceramic and painting practices with three new yardage designs and a new suite of ceramic sculptures.


Dec. 8-April 16, 2023 at Bemis Center for Contem porary Arts, 724 S. 12th St. This group exhibition assembles a range of creative practices—including painting, sculpture, video, fashion, and nail art istry-that embrace lavish, sumptuous aesthetics to examine how America’s obsession with wealth and the ways it is displayed shapes class, race, and gender. 402.341.7130. —

» stagE PErformancEs «

X: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MALCOLM X Nov.4-6, at the Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. Through a series of vignettes, the opera outlines the life of Malcolm X from boyhood to his assassination in 1965, discovering the past, present, and future vision of “a prophet in search of a Black utopia, charting a course for the future.” 402.345.0606. —


Nov. 18-Dec. 23 at the Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. One of Omaha’s favor ite holiday traditions features stunning Victo rian costumes, festive music and crisp wintry sets. 402.553.0800.



Nov. 25-Dec. 18 at the Rose Theater, 2001 Farnam St. This new holiday production of the beloved Broadway musical whisks audiences away to a wintery wonderland, where your family will find the familiar fable of Cinder ella; a young woman who overcomes the frozen hearts of her family with the warmth of her hope and determination - and of course, a little help from her Fairy Godmother. 402.345.4849.



Nov. 8-13 at the Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. This classic family-favorite Broadway musical has reminded generations of theater goers that sun shine is always right around the corner and is now set to return in a new production. 402.345.0606. —


Nov. 11 at the Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. The Midwest’s improv comedy group returns for one night only with an interactive shows featuring smart, fast comedy. 402.553.0800. —


Nov. 14 at the Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. Daredevil athleticism is on display as acrobats and aerialists perform with a musical mix of timeless seasonal music. 402.345.0606.



Nov. 17-18 at the Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. One of the top names in comedy stops by Omaha on “The Berty Boy Relapse Tour.” 402.345.0606. —


Nov. 25-Dec. 18 at the BlueBarn Theatre, 1106 S. 10th St. Three actors perform every Christ mas story ever told and toss in Christmas tra ditions from around the world, seasonal icons from ancient times to topical pop-culture, and every carol ever sung. 402.345.1576.



Nov. 25-Dec. 23 at the Omaha Commu nity Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. This ”CSI: Bethlehem” is a holiday mystery extrava ganza, where Sister takes on the mystery that has intrigued historians throughout the ages: whatever happened to the Magi’s gold? 402.553.0800.




DEC. 3 at the Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. America Midwest Ballet showcases the ballet company’s International cast of artists, backed by a polished ensemble of students danc ers across the metro, in this holiday favorite. 402.345.0606.



Dec. 9 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Join the actor who portrayed Westley for a behind-the-scenes look at life on and off the set of the classic film. 402.345.0202.




Dec. 11 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. The star of MTV/VH1’s hit show “Wild’n Out” and the highly rated “85 South Show” podcast comes to Omaha for one night only. Recommended for ages 18+. 402.345.0202.



Dec. 3 at the Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. The holiday show features contestants of the Emmy-Award winning television show, RuPaul’s Drag Race plus a host of other per formers. 402.345.0606.

— » concErts «


Nov. 2, 7:15 p.m., at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. The legendary punk band brings Woody Guthrie's peren nial jabs at life - many of which are from the 1940s and 1950s - into the time of their lives in their new album This Machine Still Kills Fascists. 402.345.0606. —



Nov. 5, 8:00 p.m., at the Slowdown 729 N. 14th St. Calling all Dancing Queens! We're a dance party playing your favorite ABBA hits, plus plenty of other disco hits from the 70s like The Bee Gees and Cher. 18+ ID required. 402.345.7569. —


Nov. 8, 7 p.m., at St. Cecilia Cathedral, 701 N. 40th St. One of the world’s most cherished choral ensembles performs in the impressive acoustics of Omaha’s cathedral. 402.551.2313. —


Nov. 8, 8 p.m., at the Slowdown 729 N. 14th St. Gearing up for their new release titled Homesick, the California-based band creates a newfound sound varying from punk rock to up-tempo. 402.345.7569. —


Nov. 10-11, 7:30 p.m. at Waiting Room Lounge, 6212 Maple St. With legends like George Jones, Johnny Cash, and Merle Haggard all passed on, Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, and musician Marty Stuart steps into their venerable shoes. Stuart records music that honors country’s rich legacy while advancing it into the future. 402.884.5353. —


Nov. 12, 7:30 p.m., at CHI Health Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St. The American rock band is renowned for its live shows where it plays songs differently each performance. The Grammy Award winners take to the CHI stage as it wraps up the last leg of its Fall 2022 tour. 402.341.1500. —


Nov. 16 , 8 p.m., at the Slowdown 729 N. 14th St. Renowned for his metamorphic capabilities and expertly crafted sonic adventures, Liquid Stranger bridges the gap between mellow and heavy. He has performed at some of the most innovative events and festivals around the globe. 402.345.7569. —


Nov. 20, 21, 27, 28; Dec. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, & 24 at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St.

As part of the holiday poinsettia show, local musicians share their talents and perform hol iday classics that are sure to delight guests of all ages. 402.346.4002. Visit website for times. —


Nov. 20, 8 p.m., at at Barnato, 225 N. 170th St. T he American singer-songwriter and fiddle player brings her inimitable approach to country music and songs from her most recent album to Omaha with special guest Honey Harper. 402.964.2021. —


Nov. 21, 8 p.m., at Waiting Room Lounge, 6212 Maple St. The American alternative rock band brings listeners back to a time and place where ripped, faded jeans were in style and music about youthful angst and the slacker’s boredom filled the airwaves of college radios across the country. 402.884.5353. —


Nov. 24, 7 p.m., at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. The concert, which follows the Lighting Ceremony at Gene Leahy Mall, features a special guest vocalist accom panied by the Nebraska Wind Symphony. 402.345.0606.



Nov. 26 at 7:30 p.m. & Nov. 27, 2 p.m., at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Doug las St. The Harry Potter Film Concert Series returns to the Holland with music from the fifth film in the Harry Potter series. Ernest Richardson conducts the Omaha Symphony in performing the magical score live while the entire film plays in high-definition on a 40-foot screen. 402.345.0606.



Nov. 26, 8 p.m., at Barnato, 225 N. 170th St. The masked DJ, producer, and vocalist samples the world around him to create his dark and sensuous “sickhop” songs. 402.964.2021. —


Dec. 1, 6 p.m., at Barrel & Vine, 1311 S. 203rd St., 6 pm. Bradbery won season four of NBC's The Voice in 2013, becoming the youngest artist to win the competition at age 16. Since then, she has released two albums and multiple singles. 402.504.1777.



Dec. 16, 8 p.m., at Barnato, 225 N. 170th St. Featuring a mix of gritty backwoods soul, rock ‘n’ roll swagger, and velvet-thunder vocals, Smith is a Nashville artist with a unique connection to life’s inner tug of war. 402.964.2021.




Dec. 8, 8 p.m., at the Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St. A three-time Grammy winner as a member of the platinum-selling vocal group Pentato nix, Kaplan returns to his artistic foundation of organic acoustic—driven rock and roots music that had provided the soundtrack to his upbringing in rural California. Through country, blues, soul, folk, tribal drums, and a touch of gospel, he explores matters of the heart, truth, morality, and the search for relevance. 402.345.7569.



Nov. 13, 2 p.m., at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Be there for Carl Orff’s epic, breathtaking “O Fortuna,” the music that has raised goosebumps and thrilled audiences from concert halls to blockbuster movies, as a 500-person choir of elite singers from Nebraska high schools joins professional soloists and the Omaha Symphony for the groundbreaking Car mina Burana. 402.345.0606.



Nov. 20, 2 p.m., at Strauss Performing Arts Center, 6305 University Drive North. Omaha Symphony trombonist Jason Stromquist makes his debut as soloist in front of the orchestra with Grondahl’s tuneful concerto for trombone; his performance is bookended by two Latinx-com poser legends: Silvestre Revueltas and Alberto Ginastera. Revueltas’ bold Redes Suite draws upon polytonal harmony and Mexican folk tunes alike. 402.554.3411.



Nov. 25, 7:30 p.m., at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Since 2017, Oma ha-based R&B/Soul band Enjoli & Timeless has performed every year on Black Friday to honor their time together as a group and collectively reminisce to the sounds of their favorite R&B and Soul classics. 402.345.0606.



Nov. 29, , 7:30 p.m., at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. The Alt-country singer songwriter is back on the road, zig-zag ging the country with his sound. Since emerging in the early 00s, Adams has met with critical acclaim for his intimate and honest output. His first record, Heartbreaker, was introduced the world to his bittersweet mind and he was touted as the new Gram Parsons. 402.345.0606. —

JOYFUL NOISE: A GOSPEL CHRISTMAS Dec. 3-4 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Celebrate the season with another joy-filled production from Omaha’s own Grammy Award-nominated Salem Concert Choir. 402.345.0606. Visit website for times. —

MANNHEIM STEAMROLLER CHRISTMAS Dec. 22, 7:30, at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. Grammy Award winner Chip Davis creates a show that features Christmas classics in the dis tinctive Mannheim sound. The program celebrates the group’s recent anniversary of 35 years since the first Christmas album and includes dazzling mul timedia effects performed in an intimate setting. 402.345.0606. —

» family & morE «


Nov. 3, 6-7 p.m. at Memorial Park, 6005 Under wood Ave. The event includes several speakers, a laying-of-the-wreath ceremony for war representa tives, music, and the grand lighting of the WWII Colonnade. Speakers include Mayor Jean Stothert, Councilmember Pete Festersen, and special guest Jeanette Harper, USAF Veteran and Bellevue University Professor. Hot cocoa and desserts will be served. 402.444.5900. —


Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m., at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. The country star gets into the spirit of the holidays with her annual Joy of Christmas Tour. 402.345.0606. —


Dec. 10, 7 p.m., at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. The contemporary Christian radio station gathers all the biggest artists in this special Christmas tour to spread love during the holidays. 402.345.0606. —


Dec. 15-18 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. In this merriest way to cele brate the season, Conductor Ernest Richardson, the Omaha Symphony, and a stellar cast of singers and dancers send your spirits soaring with festive favorites and Christmas classics. Check websites for times. 402.345.0606. —


Dec. 15, 6 p.m., at Waiting Room Lounge, 6212 Maple St. With numerous Blues Music Award honors under his belt, Zito is one of the most lauded artists in the contempo rary blues arena today who brings honesty, authenticity, and integrity to his distinctive sound. 402.884.5353. —


Nov. 5, 10 a.m., Downtown Bellevue. The event features a special flyover by the US Air Force. 402.444.5900. —


Nov. 6, 1-4 p.m. at Westroads Mall, 10000 Cal ifornia St. Kids can meet and greet their favor ite storybook characters like Splat the Cat, The Grinch, Mirabel, Pete the Cat, and others all this free event. All kids receive a free book, while supplies last. 402.444.5900.



Nov. 10-20, 23, & 25-27; Dec. 2-4, 9-23, & 26-30 at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St. Set a merry mood with friends and family and explore the illuminated indoor gardens. From a 20' tall poinsettia tree to a tropical paradise, see festive installations that glow and shine, showcasing nature in a new light. 402.346.4002. —



NOV. 11-13 at the Omaha Children’s Museum, 500 South 20th St. Enjoy themed activities, including making pool noodle lightsabers and battle droids, and a Star Wars-inspired science show. 402.342.6164. Visit website for times. —


Nov. 14 at the Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. Daredevil athleticism is on display as acro bats and aerialists perform with a musical mix of timeless seasonal music. 402.345.0606. —



Nov. 19-Dec. 31 at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St. T housands of poinsettias burst ing with rich, vibrant color fill the floral display hall in a glowing tribute to the holi days during the spectacular holiday poinsettia show. 402.346.4002. Visit website for times. —


Nov. 24-Jan. 8, 2023 at The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St. This long-standing tradition features Omaha’s official Christmas tree, holi day concerts, and Santa himself. 402.444.5071. Visit website for event dates and details. —


Nov. 25, 6-8 p.m. at Stinson Park, 2285 S. 67th St. This annual event starts with the tree lighting and includes community activities (in a heated tent), free visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and horse-drawn carriage rides throughout the holiday season. 402.496.1616. Visit website for event dates and details. —


Nov. 25-Dec. 23 at the Omaha Children’s Museum, 500 South 20th St. This short, live performance features Santa Claus, elves, and an animatronic Rudolph. There will be indoor snowfall, silly moments, and a message from the Snow Queen. Following each per formance, children can share their wish lists with Santa and get their picture taken with him. 402.342.6164. Visit website for times. —


Dec. 31, 7 p.m., in Downtown Omaha; viewing locations at CHI Health Event Center & TD Ameritrade Park near 10th & Cass Streets. Cel ebrate New Year's Eve with the spectacular fire works show that fills the sky with bursts of color choreographed to explode on cue to a unique musical score. 402.345.5401.



Nov. 23, 6-7 p.m., at Shadow Lake Towne Center, 7775 Olson Dr., Papillion. Kick off the holiday season with the lighting of Shadow Lake Towne Center’s new 35-foot LED-lit tree covered in more than 30,000 lights. 402.444.5900. —


Nov. 24-Jan. 2 at the Gene Leahy Mall, Old Market. Thanksgiving Lighting Ceremony, 6 p.m. Celebrate the 23rd season of the festive lighting display that illuminates the the newly renovated Gene Leahy Mall and Old Market throughout the Holidays. The display includes white lights, garlands, snowflakes, and more. 402.345.5401. Visit website for locations. —


Nov. 29, 7:30 p.m., at Liberty First Credit Union Arena, 7300 Q. St., Ralston. The circus dazzles audiences with its acclaimed and whimsical holiday spectacular, making it a premiere family holiday tradition. 402.934.9966.



Dec. 1, 5-9:30 p.m. at 50th & Underwood. Kick off the holiday season with our annual Lights on Dundee celebration with activities for the whole family. —


Dec. 4, 11 a.m-4 p.m. in Downtown Omaha. Enjoy a festive day full of family—friendly activities at your favorite Omaha attractions. Visit the website for the listings of venues and schedule of special holiday entertainment. 402.345—5401.



Dec. 18, 3 p.m., at the Orpheum The ater, 409 S. 16th St. T he Broadway-style musical production is inspired by the #1 most watched entertainment brand on YouTube. 402.345.0606.


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Rising Star Bet s on H erself HA RL OW

ver since the art of making music became an ‘industry,’ the path to stardom has remained obscure, lying somewhere beyond the quantifiable. Record labels and produc ers would hedge their bets on prospective artists, and if especially fortunate, hit upon generational talent. A musician’s career was a gamble for all involved; a record deal hardly binding until sealed in rouge b y lady luck.

However, as up-and-coming pop sensation Kiana Meradith better known by her stage name, HARLOW is well aware, even star power can be converted into ones and zeroes these days.

“With the way that things work now, you’re sort of proving yourself [online] with song after song after song,” she said. “Content consumption is so high, and there’s a lot of demand to keep up with consistent releases.”

Such urgency is familiar to creators and users of digital media alike the endless torrent of data swallowing up all but the most viral of content, and just as quickly, the algorithm-led focus of its consumers.

“There are so many people doing what you want to do, and they’re all online. You have a lot of com petition at all times, which is actually quite a good thing…but there’s pressure,” H ARLOW noted.

In part, this is because major labels no longer have to roll the dice, nor ante up initial promotion costs. The cards streaming figures, social media data, trend projections are known well before chairs are rolled to the conference table.

“The record labels, they were more involved in the artists themselves,” reflected Jim Prchal, who’s booked HARLOW for multiple gigs at his West Omaha bar and music venue, Barrel & Vine. “But now it’s like, ‘hey they’re good, but let’s just look at their numbers.’”

In addition to Barrel & Vine, Prchal is a co-owner and partner at the Prchal Peterson Group, an accounting firm that serves clients nationwide many hailing from Music City, USA.

“One of my friends in Nashville, he was a VP of Sony Records for 15 years,” Prchal said, “and the biggest thing with these artists now is they got to get into TikTok. 'Tiktok numbers through the roof? Streaming numbers through the roof? If they’re good, we’ll find them. If they’re not? We’re passing.' It’s that simple anymore.”

“She’s getting traction on her followers,” he said of HARLOW’s climb, “she’s got a good vibe, she’s got good energy, an incredible voice. She’s an amazing musician…I was pretty surprised by her range. It just blew me away.”

Having only begun her pop career in 2020, HARLOW is making tremendous progress, with three singles “Haunted Houses,” “Dirty Mouth,” and “Titanic” totaling just under 845,000 streams at the time of writing. Each has made the awards circuit, with “Haunted Houses” and “Dirty Mouth” consecutive finalists for the 2021 and 2022 Unsigned Only Music Competition, respectively, and “Titanic” earning a finalist posi tion at the International Songwriting Competition (Performance Category) in 2022.

HARLOW believes her country music roots encourage lyrical depth, whether over guitar strings or sy nthesizers.

“I do have a history in country music, and that’s what I was raised on,” she said. “From a writing perspective, I still like to have my foundation in that. I like storytelling, and to be a good song writer is really impor tant to me.”

“Taylor Swift’s Lover album had just come out, so I was listening to that a lot when I wrote ‘Haunted Houses,’” she said of her debut, and presently, most popu lar single.

“Somebody I knew closely was going through a difficult time, and I was thinking, ‘you’re totally doing this to yourself, you’re ruminating, you’re going back to this thing that’s not good for you, you’re kind of…haunting yourself,’ she explained. “That was where the concept came from.”

After enrolling at Belmont University in Nashville, HARLOW made area connections of her own, freelancing as a musician and actress, even lend ing her voice talents to a video game in what she describes as “a big learning e xperience.”

“One of the things that I learned in Nashville is that you’re a small fish in a really big pond,” she explained. “What’s really cool about Omaha, it’s a small big town, so the word of mouth for me was really positive…getting to play at Barrel & Vine was so exciting. It was the first show I’d done here in Omaha that I really felt like I got to show off what I can do. That w as awesome.”

Between hustling in Nashville, cultivating a home grown fanbase in Omaha, and fanning her social media presence worldwide, HARLOW’s decision to bet on herself is paying off.

“Now, I’m usually writing and recording with people in Nashville. I’m lucky with the people I’ve been able to work with there,” she said, forgo ing details sealed by a non-disclosure agreement a 1,000 miles away. “I got through a couple of the right doors to work with some really c ool people.”

“I guess what I can say is, I’m very happy,” she beamed, cards ye t to play.

Visit to learn more about HARLOW.


For expanded content, open the camera on your smart device and hover over the QR code above.

“What’s really cool about Omaha, it’s a small big town, so the word of mouth for me was reall y positi ve.”


“I auditioned with many other talented actors and was so honored to be chosen to play such an iconic character,” the young per former said.

As impressive as the star turn is, it’s about far more for Sneed than donning the famed glass slipper. She will be the first BIPOC actress at the Rose to play the beloved fairytale princess. Directed by Sarah Lynn Brown (It’s A Wonderful Life), this Cinderella is a modern spin on the iconic slipper tale. With a wintery theme and a host of memorable numbers such as “In My Own Little Corner, “It’s Possible,” and “Ten Minutes Ago,” the production promises plenty of magic.

An Omaha transplant, Sneed hails from Waukee, Iowa. Growing up, she was influ enced by her parents’ love of musicals such as Hair and Phantom of the Opera, and she staged backyard productions with her sib lings. She went on to study theater perfor mance and theater for youth at the University of Northern Iowa, where she graduated in 2021. She then became a teaching artist fellow at the Rose, and in little over a year was promoted to a full-time position as both the organization’s school-based program ming director and a company actor. She is involved with elementary schools across the Omaha metro, providing field trips and opportunities for students to see shows.



The Rose’s retelling, she said, examines and

kening back to the educational foundation she received at UNI when studying about diversity, inclusion, and multiculturalism. As much as she loves performing, working with youth is her ultimate passion. She takes time to cultivate connections with her fellow young artists in order to motivate and inspire them and strives to be the role model that children in marginalized communities need. To this end, Sneed is spearheading a production for BIPOC teens, Livin’ In Color, which will offer a protective and open space for diverse youth to create new works, examine community issues, and explore t heir voices.

“Sneed has made an enormous impact on The Rose in a relatively short period of time as part of our team,” said Matt Gutschick, artistic director for the Rose. “She displays professional maturity well beyond her years of experience. Most importantly, she is a transcendent educator, someone who brings a spark to each of her teaching engagements. That spark is something young people are totally drawn to and inspired by.”

This is why the opportunity to represent the character of Cinderella means so much to her. “As a child I was inspired by Brandy who played the first Black Cinderella in 1997, and I looked up to her,” she recounted. “I watched the VHS tape with my siblings so many times that it broke.”

“As a performer, Sneed has such a remarkable

“That is all channeled through a singing voice

“The cast is full of the most creatively beau tiful theater artists, and I know the show is going to be something really special,” she said. “I never thought after graduating col lege mid-pandemic that I would be in my dream job so soon. I am truly indebted to The Rose for believing in my abilities. They have provided the spaces for me to challenge what theater can be and grow as both an actor and teachin g artist.”

Visit for more information.


s head of post-production and cre ative, Dan Napoli runs Hurrdat Films, a division of Hurrdat Media. He also hosts two Hurrdat-produced pod casts: Reel Life with Dan Napoli , featuring film directors and their projects, and Yellin’ In My Ear (with John Battistini), with Gen X/MTV generation-themed content. He began his career as a music supervisor and also has experience as a writer, producer, director, and editor. In college, he worked at a record store and as a ra dio deejay.

And every experience relates to another on s ome level.

“I think the common thread it’s story telling, but it’s deeper than storytelling it’s connection,” Napoli said.

Napoli’s own story of connection starts at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where he earned a degree in journalism and sports marketing. He also intended to play baseball, but an injury halted that plan his freshman year. Instead of punctuating a sad story about a dream unfulfilled, the injury opened up new opportunities. (And Napoli didn’t know it at the time, but baseball would also be a conduit to a future documenta ry project.)

“I got to have more of a life,” he said. “And I really loved it at Kearney…I didn’t go there just to play baseball. There were other things binding me there, and I just kind of dug it.”

Napoli was able to replace his meager scholarship income with a record store job, and considering his college studies and deejay gig, he envisioned a career in radio or the music industry in Los Angeles. But there was another connec tion with later significance: paintball.

During the 1994 Major League Baseball strike, Napoli and his fraternity broth ers watched alternative programming on ESPN, including the World Paintball Championship. “They were airing everything that potentially looked like a sport,” Napoli said. That exposure led to some group outings to a paintball field in Kearney owned by Ed and Ma ry Poorman.

“Turns out, five years later the record store goes out of business. I’m a blue-collar kid, and I have to have a job,” Napol i recalled.

Ed Poorman was prominent in the paintball world, and Mary Poorman often frequented the record store to buy alt-punk music. The couple also owned Warped Sportz, an action sports retailer, and offered Napoli his first career-related position in market ing and promotions eventually expanding to video projects as he entered his final semester of colle ge in 1999.

“That work led to my first production gig as a music supervisor,” Napoli said, adding that it was great field education, from learn ing about usage rights to realizing that “not everything can be the intensity of Slayer.”

The work involves distilling copious infor mation and footage down to a compelling story that can be told in a couple of hours.

“I think my best strength is coming at it from journalism,” he said. “It’s so basic, and you want to dress it up and make it visual, but how do I get to my ‘five Ws and one H’? (making reference to the who, what, when, where, why, and how principals of storytelling.)

Hurrdat Films produces both entertain ment projects and works for brands and agencies. Napoli has produced over a dozen documentaries but is best known for the award-winning 50 Summers , which features the Omaha Storm Chasers in an examination of Minor League Baseball, and Best Kids In Texas , a look inside the world of professional paintball and the movement that created the San Antonio X-Factor. Both documentaries are avail able on iTunes and A mazon Prime.

Napoli is currently overseeing three documentaries in various stages of pro duction: Heart Means Everything , about American mixed martial artist Raufeon Stots; another about professional paint ball, We Can Be a Dynasty, and an ear ly-stage project about record stores and the ir revival.

Photojournalist Christopher Dilts met Napoli at a trade show 20 years ago.

Seeing viewers’ reaction to the final video project at a 2000 screening set Napoli on the path to becoming a director whose signature is storytelling and music. Prior to Hurrdat, Napoli led his own “very indie” film production company for ov er a decade.

“As a documentary director, my job is to take you into this world,” he said. “It’s twofold: to serve people from that world with the story and a deeper level of it, and to take an outsider to this world and experience it a nd connect.”

“In the decades since then, we’ve both remained close friends and found opportunities to collaborate and work together on projects, building on that love of narrative and storytelling married with powerful, intimate images,” he said. “Recently, I’ve really enjoyed working with him on his Raufeon Stots doc. I don’t have any real background in MMA or pro fighting, but Dan knew that I love a character, love storytelling, and would instantly connect with this subject if he sent me in, even just for a day or so.”

“I’m super-driven,” Napoli said. “If I believe in it, I belie ve in it.”

Visit Vimeo to watch an extended trailer of Best Kids In Texas

For expanded content, open the camera on your smart device and hover over the QR code above.

"As a documentary director, my job is to take you into this world. It's two-fold: to serve people from that world with the story and a deeper level of it, and to take an outsider to this world and experience it and connect.,, -Dan Napoli



For nearly a decade, Nathaniel Ruleaux built an acting career and dedicated his spare time to drawing and painting. He shared stories with audiences on stage and quietly made visual art at home. When he decided to become a full-time father, though, his commitme nts shifted.

“I was so used to working at a theater until all hours of the night. I found pretty fast that being a stay-at-home dad, I was artistically starved to do something,” R uleaux said.

So he began to make things. Works that were bold, bright, and varied. Some in acrylic, clay, spray paint whatever method moved him at the moment. Ruleaux’s artis tic approach is first and foremost rooted in a passion for storytelling. He formulates his vibrant pieces as part of a rich tradition that uplifts his own identity as a member of the Oglala Lak ota Nation.

It was an identity he deeply missed while away from Nebraska, first in graduate school in Texas, then acting in Washington, D.C. The farther he got from the Oglala Lakota people, the more others seemed to treat his Indigenous identity like it wasn’t real. Fortunately the stars aligned, and Ruleaux and his family moved to Omah a in 2019.


Ruleaux described himself at this time as bouncing around his studio apartment just making things alongside his baby, Luca, in a carrier. Everyone he knew was at work, so he started chatting with one of the only other people home during the day: his grandfather, Donald D. Ruleaux. Donald, who lived in Nebraska and died in 2020, was an artist and arts educator whose work featured in the permanent collections of institutions like the Museum of Nebraska Art and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. As the pair discussed their shared passion for art, Donald began to talk to his grandson about Lakota culture, heritage, a nd history.

Growing up, Ruleaux said his grandfather’s artwork always hung in his family’s home. One of his favorites was a watercolor fea turing a bison herd with a single white one hidden in the middle. “It was something I could go back to, to remember who I am,” the art ist shared.

During regular calls with his grandfather, Ruleaux started painting more bison him self. Partly because they’re easy shapes, he joked; he just makes three circles and fills the bison in around them. But the artist is drawn to bison primarily for their symbolic resonance. During the 1800s, the United States government deliberately extermi nated tens of millions of bison to eliminate an essential resource for the Lakota and many other Indigenous people. This is part of a long history of erasure and murder of Indigenous communities by colonizers, governments, and white America.

Ruleaux created some bison in watercolor, some in ink, yet others in spray paint. He titled them “Bison One,” then, “Bison Two,” and the herd continued growing. As Ruleaux learned his Indigenous language, he began to call them by the Lakota word for bison, “ptéȟčaka .”

The title of one of these, “Facing the Storm,” references the fact that when bad weather roars in, bison head toward the oncoming storm not away. As much as Ruleaux’s works are portrayals of the majestic animal, they also examine issues facing Indigenous people today. Works feature bison running across a pipeline that leaks oil or the large bovine crashing through cityscapes.

“I eventually started to feel like I wanted to bring a bison into the world for every one that was shot from a train passing through the Great Plains and bring back a bison for every skull piled up on a giant hill,” Ruleaux said. “They represent a pushback against colonialist values and white supremacist systems.”

Ruleaux’s work extends outside physical media. In 2021 he helped form Unceded Artist Collective, a community and direc tory of Indigenous artists who live and create on the unceded land of the Umónhon and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ. The project received a generator grant from Amplify Arts.

Peter Fankhauser, the nonprofit’s co-director, said, “I feel like creative practice in general has a lot of potential to distill big concepts into a format that resonates on an emotional level, and I think that's what Nate does in the context of his community-building work, particularly with Unceded Artist Collective.”

Ultimately, Ruleaux’s work is a product of immense optimism and devotion to com munity that pushes against centuries of ancestral trauma. Like a bison facing the storm, the artist confronts the pain and isolation of a people nearly destroyed by colonial incursion.

Although his pieces may not always be obviously joyful, they demonstrate beauty in resilience, in the unusual, and in the collective.

“I hope to try to educate folks and help us all move to a better future, which can be hard to picture sometimes,” Ruleaux said.

Visit to see more of the ar tist's work.

// A+C VISUAL //
“I hope to try to educate folks and help us all move to a better future, which can be hard to picture sometimes.” -NATHANIEL RULEAUX
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When electrical linemen are on the job, they’re usually seen climbing steel or wooden power line poles, or accessing lines from a bucket at the end of the long mechanical arm of a utility truck.

Lineman Nick Roenfeld utilizes a very dif ferent approach: flying in by chopper. This is not an occasional gig for the electrical worker, who lives in Malvern, Iowa. It’s his modus operandi as a member of a brave team that uses helicopters to access power lines at great heights, well beyond what utility trucks can reach. “We often work on struc tures that are about 70 to 120 feet above the ground,” he said. “Depending on the structure and the terrain, we sometimes can get as high as 200 feet.”

Before becoming a helicopter lineman, Roenfeld, 33, said he moved from job to job looking for the right fit. He earned a degree in cardiac kinesiology at Iowa State University, worked as a personal fitness trainer, and became a conductor for Union Pacific Railroad. Then he took the advice of a cousin: learn a trade that could pro vide a good future. Roenfeld enrolled in Metropolitan Community College’s utility line program. While attending weekend courses for a year-and-a-half, he worked various jobs to stay afloat.

Upon graduation, he joined a South Dakota electrical contracting firm as a regular line man. From there he went to sites in Texas, Oklahoma, and North Dakota. Along the way, he met two coworkers who suggested he look into becoming a helicopter lineman. When he contacted a helicopter company, he was hired and sent to Texas for training. Soon, he was riding helicopters near power lines from Key West to Wichita to the north coast of Alaska and New York City.

The project at Key West, a transmission line crossing part of the ocean, showed the ben efits of using helicopters. “It was easier to take a helicopter from structure to structure

rather than rent a barge, put a truck on it, and go to each structure,” Roenfeld explained matter- of-factly.

About a year ago, he joined another helicop ter company, JBI Helicopter Services, which has about 100 employees at facilities in New Hampshire, Tennessee, and Louisiana. Besides installing, inspecting, and maintaining electri cal transmission line projects, JBI engages in aerial applications, forestry projects, transports people and cargo, and services helicopters.

Brian Pearce, director of line operations at JBI, said that of the company’s two dozen heli copters, seven are used exclusively with trans mission lines. Called the MD 500, they are nimble descendants of a line of small military observation helicopters used in Vietnam ideal for flying near transmission lines because they respond quickly to pilots’ commands.

When Roenfeld receives an assignment, he flies commercially from Omaha to the job site, where a small heliport has been built as an operating base. “We have a job briefing every morning,” said the electrical worker, who is one of JBI’s 17 helicopter linemen. “We go over what work is going to be done, the hazards, the risks, how we’re going to approach the struc ture, and how we’re going to work on them.”

Much of his work is done while standing on one of the helicopter’s skids. “We’re harnessed

100% of the time,” said Roenfeld, who’s flown up to a structure or a wire. He then sets about his work, replacing equipment on the struc tures and wires or installing new gear. He wears steel-toed shoes and fire-retardant cloth ing. His helmet keeps him in radio contact with his pilot. Most often, he operates on lines carrying no electricity. However, when linemen work with energized lines, they wear special gear called Faraday suits to protect themselves from the electricity.

“The highest voltage that I’ve worked on is 345,000 volts,” Roenfeld shared.

At times, he leaves the helicopter to work on a power pole’s cross arm. When he does that, he fixes his harness to the structure and takes his gear and tools. If he will be a while, he lets the pilot fly away and radios later for pickup.

Another way that Roenfeld works is by hang ing below the helicopter on a 50- to 75-footlong rope. The pilot then maneuvers him where he need s to be.

“Nick is by far one of our very elite appren tices,” Pearce said. “He’s dedicated and has a whole lot of knowledge not only about power line work but other things as well, and that helps him.”

Despite working up in the air nowadays, Roenfeld once had a fear of heights. “I still get a little nervous now and then,” he con fessed. "If you have a fear, you can either let it control you or you can face it and cope with it to overcome it.”

If you have a fear, you can either let it control you or you can face it and cope with it to overcome it.” -Nick Roenfeld
Paula and Gary Glissman, with a photo of their late son, Michael


-Due to the illicit nature of the following account, the source agreed to share his experiences under guarantee of anonymity, citing job security. He will be referred to as “Nathaniel Owens” in the following section.


did half of one, and next thing I knew, there’s a light in my face, and there’s a cop, just saying my name over and over again…‘Nate! Nate! Nate!’…‘Like, what? What’s going on?’” recalled Nathaniel Owens, a 29-year-old graduate of Omaha Westside High School and recov ering opiate addict. “And the only reason…my head was out the window, and she saw me, I was turning blue, and she called 911. I woke up in the ambulance with the cop yelling above me.”

The “one” he’s referring to was, by all appearances, a prescription-grade oxycodone tablet. A round, powder-blue shell imprinted with the numeral 30 and the letter ‘M,’ ostensibly prescribed to treat severe pain. The “she” was a young woman, exiting a local bar. A complete stranger.

As his addiction so frequently demanded, Owens tossed back the familiar pill with guilty anticipation. Yet, it wasn’t the “little cloud, where your back doesn’t hurt anymore” cresting the horizon. On a cold February night in 2021, Owens fou nd oblivion.


“Right now the biggest thing we’re seeing is fake, or counterfeit M30 pills,” said Lt. Steve Fornoff, who currently helms the Omaha Police Department’s narcotics unit. “The dealers have figured out that they can mimic this stuff, and they sell it per pill. It takes a very, very little amount of money to make them. Their profit s are huge.”

Having spent 23 of his 29 years in law enforcement with the OPD, Fornoff is well acquainted with the various pockmarks and ulcers the city’s underbelly conceals. Still, the response he’s received from cer tain dealers hustling counterfeit pills reek particula rly callous.




Face spilt over his driver’s side window, Owens’ lips rapidly drained blue; his automatic nervous system no longer signaled his body to breathe.

“With fentanyl…it’s so fast, you just go black,” he said. “It’s the scariest thing.”

At 50 times the relative potency of heroin, and 100 that of morphine, even a heavy opiate user like Owens, at the time of his described overdose is susceptible to what the Drug Enforcement Agency has determined fentanyl’s lethal threshold: an infinitesimal 2 milligrams (mg), the equivalent of 10-15 grains of table salt.

“It got to a real bad point where I was doing, like, 200 to 300 milligrams (mg) a day,” he said of his oxycodone consumption prior to seeking treatment. “I was drunk and called someone I shouldn’t have. They told me they [the pills] were real and clearly [in retrospect] they weren’t. A half one shouldn’t kill me, know what I mean?”

The other unknown that night the woman who noticed Owens’ condition and promptly dialed emergency services all but certainly saved his life.

“If she hadn’t happened to come out, I probably would’ve died,” he conceded.

Though Owens’ second fentanyl overdose a month later was arguably even more traumatic, lapsing out of consciousness while behind the wheel of his truck, it’s the funerals he’s attended that give him pause.

“I’ve had…six friends die from it now,” he said deliberately, weary of the number’s crushing fatalism. “Three within the past six to 18 months. The other three, over four or five years. Fentanyl is a whole different animal. It’s not even drugs, it’s pretty much Russian roulette,” he cautioned. “It’s murder.”

“Some of the dealers that we’ve talked to, that we’ve arrested, have told us when we’re telling them, ‘Hey, the possibility of overdosing on these drugs is pretty high, does that bother you at all, that you could potentially be killing people with this?’” Fornoff said. “The responses that we’re getting is that they understand the risk, but for every one person that does overdose, they get 10 more that become hooked. Their profit margins are going up, so they’re okay with that risk.”

According to figures collected by the Centers for Disease Control, the rate of synthetic opioid-related deaths jumped by a staggering 56% between 2019 and 2020 in the United States. Provisional data released by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics projected the death toll surged by 28.5% over a 12-month window through April, 2021 from 78,056 deaths to 100,306 deaths over the same time period tallied in 2020. In Nebraska, 46 more people succumbed to fatal overdoses in 2020 tha n in 2019.


However, a countermeasure on the medical side has fatalities in a gradual, nonetheless encouraging, retreat. Naloxone, more commonly referred to by its trade name, NARCAN, is an opiate antagonist administered either intravenously or nasally that reverses the neurological misfires of an overdose within two to five minutes (for a duration of 30 to 90 minutes). Its greater availability, in Omaha and elsewhere, is s aving lives.

“They may be literally seconds away from dying, you provide the NARCAN, and they can almost make a full recovery right then and there,” Fornoff said. “Just about everyone on the department has been able to get their hands on some NARCAN, and they take it with them during their shifts.”

An abundance of product, easy cash flow, and guaranteed repeat customers mean dealers needn’t discriminate. While deaths are down, overdoses continue to climb.

“We’re seeing young teenagers, all the way up to people in their 80s abusing it. We’re seeing all socio-economic groups; class doesn’t factor, race, area of town. We’re seeing all different types of people abusing it,” Fornoff said. “Methamphetamine is still our No. 1 drug in Omaha, but we’re seeing fentanyl is quic kly rising.”

A huge bust in Omaha this past July by Fornoff’s colleagues at the Drug Enforcement Agency the seizure of 32,000 counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl esti mated to be worth between $96,000 and $160,000 underscores the drug’s strength ening grip on the community.

“This is not a metropolitan problem, this is not a small town problem, it’s not a rural country problem. It’s a nationwide prob lem,” echoed Justin King, special agent in charge of the DEA Omaha Fie ld Division.

“The world’s never seen anything like it, something that in such a small amount can be so potent, and it continues to evolve,” King said. “If you look back at cocaine and how it evolved into crack cocaine, if you talked to someone at that time they’d never seen anything like it. We had the same thing with the meteoric rise of metha mphetamine.”

Statistics published by Washington, D.C.headquartered Global Financial Integrity (GFI) in 2017, a research institute focused exclusively on the transnational exchange of illicit goods and services, estimated global drug trafficking lies somewhere between $426 billion and $652 billion in

annual value figures that don’t take into account the recent boon fro m fentanyl.

“What it really comes down to, they’re trying to make more money,” King said of fentanyl and other lab-made opiates. “It’s synthetic so they can produce unlimited amounts, whereas you talk about heroin or cocaine or marijuana, it’s something you have to grow. It takes a lot more time. They’ve streamlined that. They’ve made a more pote nt product.”

Drug dealers have also become more sophisticated in regard to distribution the illicit market’s exponential growth accelerating the tactical and strategic arms race with law enforcement.

“The Sinaloa Cartel, the CGJN (Jalisco New Generation Cartel), are primarily the biggest ones who are producing fen tanyl, these fake pills. They have supply networks where they get the precursors to make the fentanyl products out of China, and they’re making that into the product and pushing in through multiple various networks in the United States,” King explained.

“But you know, it’s not a scientific process. These are clandestine labs where some pills may have more fentanyl in them, and that’s why we push our “One Pill Can Kill” cam paign. That one pill can be the difference between life and death,” he warned. “We want to take it off the streets and hold those who are distributing it accountable, but we also want a multifaceted approach, to educate the public.

“What I can tell, in each of these times you have to address the threat as aggres sively as you can,” King said, referencing the tidal quality of drug epidemics in the U.S. “You have to go after the dealer. You have to go after the distributor, the dis tribution network. You have to go after the supplier. Getting it off the street is so vitall y important.

“We lose so much potential in our country because of drug addiction,” he lamented.


-Due to the illicit nature of the following account, the source agreed to share his expe riences under guarantee of anonymity, citing fears of legal prosecution. The subject will be referred to as “Alan Campbell” in the fol low ing section.

“I’ve been in the market about six years now,” said Alan Campbell, a metro-area pot and cocaine dealer. “All of my friends were smoking a bunch of weed, and I wished I could make some money off them. Then, as I was selling to them, I was introduced to their friends and what they were into, and I just started picking up other things. Weed, Xanax, coke, Oxy…stuf f like that.

“Yeah, I just kind of dabbled around,” he demurred.

Contemporary media depictions of drug dealers often portray a lavish lifestyle, wherein fine jewelry, luxury vehicles, and crisp c-notes are flaunted through a lens of ‘untouchable’ excess. Campbell, how ever, maintains a low profile. That’s because under Nebraska state law, ‘possession with intent to deliver’ of any Schedule I sub stance whether marijuana or prescription pills, counterfeit or otherwise constitutes an automatic Class IIA Felony, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years upon conviction.

Campbell is conscientious in other ways, too. He ceased selling pills altogether when the deleterious effects that fentanyl was having on the underground economy beca me apparent.

“I’ve had two buddies’ girlfriends die after parties, just because some guy was outside selling fake Percocet, and it was laced with fentanyl,” he recalled. “Just an hour later they died. I was like, ‘I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to kill somebody on accident.’”

Still, Campbell isn’t ignorant to the fact that many dealers are cutting their wares with fentanyl regardless of the type of high advertised. A rash of overdoses related to fentanyl-laced cocaine occurred in Omaha and Lincoln last summer, and the trend continues with cases related to spiked cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine increasingly commonplace. Not even mar ijuana’s relatively benign reputation has gone untarnished

Justin King, special agen t in charge, DEA Omaha Fi eld Division

hey’re putting [fentanyl] on weed, because I guess it looks more ‘crystally’ that way,” he said. “They’ll sprinkle it in with just about anything.”

Campbell also highlighted that, although cities near the coasts and southern border may have greater quantities of narcotics flowing through them overall, purity becomes a greater concern the further inland contrab and travels.

“I mean, it could touch like 20 people before it gets here, depending who their supplier is,” Campbell said, “and even if they’re getting it straight from, say Texas, and it’s coming to Omaha, maybe just a couple of people have touched it. But once it’s here, it’s probably going through five or so plugs before it gets to a consumer, all cutting it in the ir own way.

“You’re not getting pure Molly (MDMA), you’re not getting pure coke, you’re not getting pure Oxy, you’re not getting any thing pure unless it comes straight from the pharmacy,” h e concluded.

Campbell offered the following advice to those seduced by curiosity or pe er pressure: “Don’t be so quick to just take whatever someone’s giving you, ask questions and test your drugs,” he advised. “On a moral standpoint, [fentanyl] doesn’t make any sense, it’s evil. But it’s not going to stop. They just don’t really give a shit that they’re hurt ing people.

“Crush it up, break it down, and test it,” he said. “A test kit costs a lot less than your life.”

Still, abstinence is the only definitive way to avoid overdosing a truism at the core of Coalition Rx, a nonprofit that aims to intercept addiction via education, preven tive care, and polic y advocacy.

“Do you realize we’ve lost 107,000 across the country?” posed Coalition co-founder and executive director Carey Pomykata, referencing the final estimate of lethal fentanyl overdoses for 2021 as reported by the CDC. “That’s enough people to fill the football stadium (Lincoln’s Memorial Stadium). Think about that, all those p eople dead.”

While Pomykata noted that senior citi zens represent another cohort dispropor tionately affected by the crisis, it’s the emergence of ‘rainbow fentanyl’ brightly colored, innocuous-looking tablets spe cifically designed to appear ‘fun’ that’s renewed her anxiety toward Omaha’s youth, includi ng children.

“They look like sidewalk chalk or like the marshmallows in the Lucky Charms boxes. And I thought, ‘If any little kids see that, they’re going to pick that up,’” Pokmykata recalled with dismay. “And if you figure that four out of every 10 pills contains [potentially] lethal does of fentanyl, when young people start testing these things out, we’re going to lose a lot of youth. Parents cannot afford to be lax nowadays it’s crit ical they’re part of the conversation.”

Based out of University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center, Coalition Rx also works closely with the university to curb on-campus drug abuse, and just as preva lent, prescription drug theft between stu dents partnering with Justin King and the Omaha DEA to distribute medication lock-boxes this p ast October.

“The time you really see Adderall issues is around test time, right? I’m beginning to realize that pretty much any prescrip tion drug that you overdo and overtake is going to do damage,” she noted. “You never want to take drugs that don’t have your n ame on it.”

“But now, with fentanyl, there’s a good chance it could kill you ,” she said.


The genesis and socio-historical apparatus that sustains the ‘opioid epidemic’ as coined in the 21st century has achieved general consensus among addiction scholars:

An initial wave, characterized by the over prescription of OxyContin in the 1990s, owed largely to intentional mislabeling by its manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, and the “panacea” reputation it initially excited in physicians.

The second wave occurred in the 2010s, when a confluence of updated research, more stringent protocols, and a sentiment of contrition by the medical community led to a sharp decrease in the prescription rate of semi-synthetic opiates; consequently, this left a large segment of the population turning to street-curated heroin to fend off withdrawal.

Presently, the third wave generated by the mass influx of fentanyl is crashing over the United States with unprecedente d virulence.

“There were huge pushes in the medical community about the overprescription of opiates,” noted OneWorld Community Health Center psychiatrist Dr. Shannon Kinnan. “There’s been a major cutback over the last few years.”

University of Nebraska Medical Center addiction medicine fellow Dr. Abraham Farhat has observed much the same.

“For a long time, opiates were being mar keted really heavily and overprescribed. It’s gone the other direction; now people are reluctant to prescribe any opioids,” Farhat noted. “So we have a patient base that has a physical dependency. That puts patients in a tough spot, because they do develop a very significant withdrawal syndrome…so if you develop dependency in a patient and don’t sort of taper them off, they may just be seeking other ways to not feel sick.”

Physicians have encountered and attempted to solve this medical paradox for centu ries: no drug in nature or science comes close to the pain relief offered by the spe cific arrangement of alkaloid compounds extracted from the seeds of Papaver som niferum , more commonly known as the opium poppy. Nor has any drug caused such prolonged, recurrent suffering throughout the course of hu man history.

“It’s hard to be in a rational place when you’re just vomiting and having diarrhea and feel ing really terrible; your whole body starts to ache,” Farhat explained. “It’s a phenomenon called hyperalgesia , which happens because your body’s meant to feel pain, and if you’re covering up your pain sensors, it creates more of them. Then when the medicine is taken away, you have more pain receptors that are now active, not being covered up by anything. So, you actually have increased pain from when you started.”


Just as the potency of fentanyl is mag nitudes greater than that of oxycodone, Kinnan has noticed the ravages of with drawal are commensurate ly intense.

“We’re using the same as we would for any other opioid disorder, but it is harder. It’s harder to get them started on the medi cine,” she said of opiate replacement ther apy (ORT), in which the illicit and more harmful narcotic is initially substituted with an FDA-approved substitute, such as methadone or buprenorphine, as a tran sitional step toward recovery. “The detox and replacement time is trickier. It’s more difficult to treat.”

As with previous waves, the medical com munity is examining how to best adapt. Until the tide recedes, doctors like Kinnan and Farhat are performing triage in its wake.

“Right now, I think where we’re at, we’re really dealing with a disaster management sort of thing, where we’re just trying to keep people from dying. It’s analogous to CPR,” Farhat said.

“There’s definitely families everywhere that can identify with the issue, and not be able to do much,” he continued. “It puts them in this weird, hard situation between helping someone who needs a lot of help, versus saying no to someone because they’re making bad choices, and how to find that balance. You say a family member can’t live with you anymore because of their prob lems. But then, their living on the street poses an equally difficult situation.”

“It puts many families in a very tough spot,” Farh at conceded.


“Michael was born July 5, 1984, to par ents Gary and Paula Glissman in Omaha, NE. Survived by his parents; grandmother, Joan (Glissman) Pistillo; aunt, Lisa Jensen and uncle, Mark Armstrong; aunt, Cindy Glissman; loving family, Chris and Sarah Short and children, and Kelly Warner and children. Preceded in death by both grand fathers, Henry Glissman and Kenneth Jensen; grandmother, Edith Jensen; and his beloved cat and dog, Mayn ard and Max.

“Michael was a proud Eagle Scout and a graduate of Brownell Talbot, Class of 2002, and had an associate degree from Metro Tech. He struggled with addiction most of his adult life but was currently on a much better path, living at home with his parents and searching for inner peace. He was a kind and gentle soul and will be greatly missed by all of his friends and family.”

So reads the obituary of Michael Glissman, whose life ended with a fatal dose of fen tanyl. As written, by Micha el Glissman.

“We had made it clear he couldn’t be using and staying at home, but I also begged him not to do it alone,” Michael’s father, Gary Glissman, recalled. “He probably just didn’t have any place to go, so just stayed in his truck, and was probably dead within five minutes. He stopped breathing, and no one was there to revive him this time.”

“One of the things we found in his truck with his registration and stuff he had handwritten his own obituary, so he knew he was probably done,” Gary continued, “he was probably high, sitting in his truck, nothing to do…and so wrote out his own obituary. We tried everything we could conceivably think of, on the positive side of stuff, but it’s a precarious situation when they continue to relapse...”

Michael grew up in Omaha’s Bryn Mawr neighborhood, the only child of Gary and his wife, Paula. He enjoyed detailing cars, showed a talent for sculpture, and earned his Eagle Scout badge while anchored by a stable, prosperous household. However, Michael displayed behavioral issues ini tially attributed to ADD which grew more pronounced and frequent with age. A genet ics test in 2009 revealed the actual root of Michael’s worsening conduct: a late diagno sis Klinefelter’s Syndrome, in which a male is born with an extra copy of the X chromo some (47, XXY). The condition underlies an array of developmental complications, both physical and behavioral. This led Michael to self-treat with alcohol and preempted other, more serious health complications.

“He developed something called acute pan creatitis [in 2010] that ended up putting him in the ICU for 42 days hooked to kidney

transfusion and a ventilator,” Gary said. “They kept him in a semi-coma existence and got him extremely addicted to painkillers, just dismissing him with painkillers despite his addiction profile. And that is eventually, you know…what killed him.”

“It’s like this perfect storm,” he continued, “I was actually the one that caught him doctor shopping all over the area and five counties in Nebraska, and I just went ballistic when I found out doctors are required to report pre scriptions for all medications, but they are not required to utilize that database before they prescribe. He had 10 doctors he was getting medication from and none of them were checking the state database.”

As his addiction mounted, so too did Michael’s rap sheet of petty crimes cul minating in a felony possesion charge, pro ceeded by a six-month jail sentence in 2021. Gary believes Michael’s incarceration all but sealed his son’s fate.

“Our son was developmentally delayed with a lifelong genetic condition and various med ical issues, and during his time at DCC (Douglas County Corrections) he received inadequate medical and mental health services,” Gary wrote in an essay he titled “Broken Prison System.” “I am convinced it was a contributing cause of his death […] He died on June 23, 2022, just a few days before his 38th birthday. We bought him a headstone for that birthday.”

Gary continues to rally against what he points to as egregious failures by the med ical and penitentiary systems and breaches in the social contract including the pro liferation of ever deadlier street drugs in the community that combined to tear the Glissman f amily apart.

“He was being told [he was being sold] oxy codone, but I would say at least 80% of the time, it was almost always laced with fentanyl, because he would take it and lose consciousness and stop breathing” Gary said. “Fentanyl is so damn cheap. It’s so damn accessible. People are dying from this. This is 100,000 people dead. And nobody’s got a ha ndle on it.”

continued on pg.52


World View Local Ground

Chi gozie Obi oma

Wins Big

Chigozie Obioma walked into a Thai restaurant in Lincoln appear ing humble, but with purpose. He smiled and warmly greeted the counter workers, whom he appeared to know, then apologized for being tardy. Despite his busy schedule teaching college classes, writing books, traveling the world, and spending a substantial amount of time reading he graciously made time for ou r interview.

Obioma spent much of 2021 doing the latter, reading more than 150 novels as a judge for the prestigious Booker Prize for fiction. He traveled vicariously through literary characters from his reading chair in Lincoln to locations including Missoula, Montana, in the 1910s; rural Punjab, India, in 1929; and Pretoria, South Africa, in the 1980s the setting of the winning novel, The Promise by Damon Galgut.

Obioma grew up with his 11 siblings in Akure, Nigeria. He left his strife-rid den homeland in 2009 for Cyprus, where he earned a B.A. and M.A. from Cyprus International University, and arrived in the United States in 2012 as the OMI Fellow at Ledig House in Ghent, New York. Obioma stayed in the United States to attend the MFA program at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and remained because he fell in love with an American woman. The now-permanent U.S. resident was also enticed by the greater access to publishing in the States.

His local journey began when he was offered a position as an associate pro fessor of English at the University of Nebra ska-Lincoln.

Omaha author Timothy Schaffert was on the search committee that selected Obioma and said he and fellow committee members knew Obioma was going to be an asset to the university when they interviewed him in January 2015.

“He already had a book deal with a major New York commercial press and contracts with foreign publishers, so that was a pretty good indication that his career was going to rapidly rise, even though the book had not yet come out,” Schaffert said. The Fishermen came out in April that year. “He was affable and easygoing, and he brought to the conversations intelligence and insight and energy.”

Schaffert continued, “He exposes students to different styles of literature. He taught conceptual literature where he was asking students to consider experimental styles of writing, pushing their own work in ways they may not have considered before. I think he’s an excellent critic…so he can give students excellent insight.”

“I find it is gratifying there are some people who take writing seriously at a very young age. That gives me a lot of joy, and that gives me satisfaction,” Obioma said. “There’s a lot of Nebraska children who grew up on farms, and because they grew up in this almost wilderness they have great imagina tions…I see a lot of that, and in many ways, I do think that this place is a breeding ground for cre ativity.”


Obioma's own success is proof that the Heartland is fertile writing ground, having published two New York Times bestsellers from Nebraska. He's currently at work on his third novel with his agent, who lives in Ne w York City.

Between reading, publishing, and teaching, Obioma has become a part of the local literary community, including being a speaker and holding a table at the 2019 Oma ha Lit Fest.

“Omaha is a bigger city, and also, Omaha has a bigger Black population, historically,” Obioma said. “It was a pleasure and an honor for me to be included.”

That festival also helped increase his recognition locally, giving Omahans who did not know the author a chance to speak with him and purchase signed copies of his Booker Prize-shortlisted works of literature.

The Booker Prize is the highest literary award in the United Kingdom. It comes with about $60,000 as of late August (£50,000 final prize plus a £2,500 finalist prize), as well as international recognition that guarantees increased sales. Winning novels have spawned movies, such as The English Patient and The Remains of the Day, based on them, and popular novelists, such as Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie, have won Booker Prizes. Obioma has almost won, twice.

“My first novel (The Fishermen) came out in 2015, in Europe and the U.S.,” Obioma said. “I got great reviews; it was on the second page of the New York Times. But then, the book seemed to disappear, and so I began to think it had made a splash and gone away. Then around June, things began to change. All of a sudden the book was nominated for three or four prizes. Then in July, the big one: the longlist for the Booker Prize. Eventually, it was on the shortlist.”

The experience was flattering for the Nigerian-born Nebraskan. The awards and nominations garnered additional copies and translations. Even after being shortlisted for the Booker, The Fishermen continued to gain literary recognition, including one of four inaugural FT/Oppenheimer Funds Emerging Voices awards (out of 872 entries).

“I was shocked when I saw the publication report from China,” Obioma said. “This is a place that is so far away from my experience as an African, who has written a book about Nigeria in the 1990s. But 55,000 copies of The Fishermen had been sold in a year…it’s a big country, but I was surprised that not only that many people would want to read it, but buy it.”

The book was translated into 30 languages, and the translations have, for the most part, pleased him.

“[The Fishermen] was up for a major prize in Germany. It won a prize in France,” he said. “It was chosen for the national book club of Germany…that’s how I know the translation is good or not.”

One translation, however, did not work out as well. Obioma learned through someone who had read his book that the Arabic translation, published in Qatar, was not great.

“He actually went and made comparisons between the English and Arab translations and had someone verify it,” Obioma said. “We ended up selling the Arabic rights for the next book to this guy, even though he is a smaller publisher. I think he did a good job with the translation of the second book.”

“I find it is gratifying there are some people who take writing seriously at a very young age. That gives me a lot of joy, and that gives me satisfaction.” -Chigozie Obioma

That book, An Orchestra of Minorities, garnered Obioma another Booker Prize nomination (and shortlist honor) in 2019.

“When it happened again for the second book, some of the historians said this is rare that [an author would be shortlisted] the second time,” Obioma said. “At first I didn’t want to do it, because I thought it was going to be too much work.”

“When his second book got nominated, that level of recognition seemed fairly inevitable,” Schaffert said. “We did recognize that his work was going to have an impact internationally.”

Obioma then asked himself if he would later regret the decision, and so he accepted the request to judge this contest in which only 12 authors per year, worldwide, can claim pa rticipation.

The contest is limited to the 180,000 to 200,000 estimated books published annually in the U.K. or Ireland, and publishing houses make the submissions.

“Even the biggest publishing houses have only two slots,” Obioma said. “Altogether there are like 150 to 160 books.”

Those books were read by the five members of the 2021 judging panel, which also included Californication actor Natascha McElhone and former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Ph.D. They whittled the titles down to the 12 named to the longlist, using meetings via Zoom. Those 12 were reread to create the shortlist of six, and then those six were read again to determine the fi nal winner.

“We decided earlier, as the pandemic was scaling down, that we would try and meet for the final discussion in London,” Obioma said. “Already, the process of eliminating all these books had been difficult…Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun… we had a serious debate about that book.”

In the end, Obioma traveled from Nebraska to London to meet with the panelists for a nearly


job takes

“I want to be part of the literary community here, because right now, this is home for me,” Obioma said.

Visit for more information.

eight-hour debate in Soho. The award itself was presented to Galut on November 3 in a limited-attendance ceremony televised on the BBC. his him around the world, Obioma remains committed to Nebraska.
” -Charles


Revisiting a Victorian Holiday Tradition in Omaha’s Old Market

During the hustle and bustle of the winter holiday season, it’s hard to stop and simply take it all in: lights lining the streets, Christmas carols emanating from store speakers, wafts of cinnamon and vanilla flowing from sweet treat shops. And once upon a time, an Old Market event concentrated that joy and goodw ill for all.

When KETV Channel 7 challenged event management firm Vic Gutman and Associates to engage the community in a new and exciting way, Gutman delivered a hol iday extravaganza that delighted Omaha’s young and young at heart and kept the celebration alive for nearly a decade.

Founded in 1987, Dickens in the Market brought the holiday spirit to countless rev elers and left sweet memories, still savored years after the final carol was sung. Inspired by a similar event in Galveston, Texas, Dickens in the Market changed hands after three years and was sponsored by the Old Market Business Association for the remain der of its run.

Gutman’s team transformed the sights and sounds of Omaha’s Old Market each year with performers dressed in historically accu rate Victorian-era attire. Festively decked out by Ibsen’s Costume Gallery owner, Dwayne Ibsen, each performer embodied not only the holiday spirit but filled the streets with hope and Chri stmas glee.

“Dwayne is really a master at creating these really beautiful, really intricate pieces,” Gutman noted. “He put so much thought and work into each costume. It really ele vated what this event was able to portray and how immersive we were able to be with it.”

Gutman battled a tight budget, reluctant neighboring businesses, even Mother Nature herself to pull off the event, year after year.

“We had some years when the snowstorms made it nearly impossible for the perform ers to make it through the streets, and for onlookers to even want to be there,” he said.

Along the streets, Old Market visitors enjoyed performance art and holiday ven dors. Sprinkled along the path: Germanroasted almonds and seasonal wares for sale. They even organized a tour of nearby homes during the early years of the event, allowing guests to experience the festively decorated condos and apartments of the historic Old Market.

Each year, Gutman reached out to neighbor ing businesses to join in the festivities. Some decorated their spaces with vintage holiday cheer, and some offered special holiday treats, but they all engaged with the joyous crowd i n some form.

“The event in Galveston has a huge budget,” Gutman explained. “It’s Texas, so they aren’t dealing with sudden snow or below-freezing temperatures. Finding a way to clear the streets so carriages can make it through or keeping the event safe while snow plows are making their rounds, kept us on our toes the entire run. We did have a lot of enthusias tic people trying to make something really beautiful for the city. And whatever obsta cles we faced, we definitely accomplished that goal.”

While murmurs to revive the festivities are humming, Gutman is instead committed to preserving its memory. “We never wanted to put on something for its own sake. This was a wonderful event, and anything that doesn’t capture the spirit of what we were putting on in that 1987 to 1996 time frame just won’t cut it. We love the work we did and memories we kept.”

Gutman still utilizes his unique skill set and vast network to facilitate the Omaha Holiday Market, the Holiday Lights Festival, and other annual Omaha events, but Dickens in the Market may be the most memorable, theatrical, and heartwarming event on his resume. While the sights and sounds of the event may have stalled, the memories are as jolly as ever. As Dickens himself said, “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and go od humor.”


Crazy aboutadvo CaCy

WHEN IT COMES TO DEMYSTIFYING MENTAL HEALTH, Angee Stevens is no shrin king violet.

Angee Stevens isn’t afraid to put mental health where her mouth is. The warm, ombre-haired public speaker, social worker, licensed mental health practitioner, and mother is as disarming as she is charming, and is an outspoken advocate for taking the mystery out of psychiatri c services.

Stevens uses a delicate balance of humor and honesty to cultivate frank and emo tional conversations with people no matter where she is, whether in public bathrooms, checkout lines, or at a nearby cocktail hour where she unwinds after work. In a recent episode of “The Shrink Show,” a podcast she co-hosts with friend, and fellow clinical social worker and thera pist, Jaime Weatherholt, Stevens openly discusses her childhood and the path to healing her own trauma.

Stevens’s biggest hero and teacher is her mother, who was diagnosed with schizoaf fective and bipolar disorder. “When you’re a child and your parent is experiencing audio hallucinations and extreme highs and lows, you learn to see your parent how the world sees them,” she said. “The world saw my mom in a very judgmental way, which made me feel like something was wrong with her. That created a divide between us, which created a divide in me. She’s also funny and kind, but when I saw anything of her in me, I would be terrified. What would it mean if I was like her? ”

Stevens speaks of some of her darkest expe riences with a nonchalance that, to the untrained ear, might come across as chilly or uninvested. To the trauma-informed, however, the tone indicates that she simply can’t be fazed. She isn’t trying to draw listeners in with salacious details or garner pity. She’s telling them that she knows

what it means to love someone through a mental illness; and that there is more to her mother, to her, and to mental health t han labels.

“We are fearful of what we don’t under stand. We need to embrace all of our own crazy and the crazy in others. That way, when we encounter someone who is ‘crazy’ like my mom, we see them as a human first,” Stevens said. “I want to deconstruct what these mental health diagnoses mean, to take the stigma out of some of these scandalized terms and labels. Sharing sto ries shows people that they aren’t alone, and they don’t ha ve to hide.”

Stevens has seen the best and worst of what people with complicated mental health can accomplish. Through her work with Child Saving Institute, Project Harmony, Alpha Schools, and Children’s Hospital, she has seen how hard families, providers, and friends are willing to work to provide safe and independent lives for their loved ones.

“Unfortunately, most of our fight isn’t happening in the room with the patient. We are fighting a lot of bureaucracy and lack of funding.” So Stevens shifts her focus, not off of the patient, but toward the support system. “It’s important to me to teach the helpers to be effective, to give them support and resources so they aren’t bu rning out.”

Stevens now serves as her mother’s care giver, and her support system includes husband Joel, friends, coworkers, and Weatherholt her former classmate, close collaborator, and co-host, who said people naturally gravitate toward the pair. Even when they’re out just grabbing drinks, people who don’t even know what the duo does approach and initiate co nversations.

“People with completely different perspec tives and opinions will find themselves open ing up to us, and before they know it we’re commenting, ‘I’m curious why you used that phrasing,’” said Weatherholt. “And it’s not because we’re dying to analyze every word everyone says; we’re just genuinely interested in where they’re coming from. When you come to people without judgment and truly hold space, it gives them permission to be vulnerable and honest.”

The friends bring that same energy to their unscripted podcast. Stevens serves up a bold and no-holds-barred confessional, while Weatherholt, witty and quick, acts the straight man during conversations that wander as easily as coffeehouse gab although, it’s gin and tonics the hosts hold in their mugs.

In what they call a “therapeutic happy hour,” the pair don’t simply break the fourth wall, they draw their audience into the conversation as a silent third member. They casually craft an atmosphere that has their listeners feeling seen and heard, cre ating a seat at the table for everyone in the conversation about ment al health.

Visit and listen to the podcast at theshrinkshow

“I want to deconstruct what these mental health diagnoses mean, to take the stigma out of some of these scandalized terms and labels. Sharing stories shows people that they a ren’t alone, and they don’t have to hide.” -Angee Stevens

For expanded content, open the camera on your smart device and hover over the QR code above.

Cherylle Leffall


On and Off The Court

Whether it’s the practice required to cash in a soft hook-shot on the Butler Gast YMCA basketball court, or making a change in the neighborhood where she grew up, Leffall recognizes that you can’t rush development.

Nor can you r ush a Pearl.

“The process of cultivating a pearl takes six months to several years,” the founder and head coach of the Nebraska Pearls, an inde pendent youth girls basketball league, said recently. “Establishing the Pearls was not an overnight process…I have been coaching several of my current athletes since they were 6 or 7…watching their skills develop over the years has been like a pearl being cultivated.”

That long-term thinking and philosophy of life as basketball and basketball as life guides Leffall’s team of young hoopers from their first jump shots to their latest exploits on t he hardwood.

The name also has a double meaning: not only does it represent the Omaha Central High School graduate’s outlook as a coach; it pays homage to someone who helped form her own determination and purpose.

“Pearl was the name of my late great-grand mother, my ‘Big Mama,’” Leffall said. “Hearing stories about growing up in Fort Dodge, Iowa, navigating racism, raising five amazing children…the love she had for people, and the lessons she taught, the values and confidence she instilled, I had to honor her with something spe cial to me.”

Leffall believes in the fundamentals of life and the fundamentals of the game of basketball in equal measure. It’s what she discovered on her journey from Omaha Central to Howard Junior College in Big Spring, Texas, then back to Omaha where she played at College of Saint Mary.

A natural leader, Leffall found herself look ing for a way to impact the lives of others. Basketball seemed the natural fit, a passion that never ceased to i nspire her.

“I began coaching basketball for the YMCA in 2016 and never looked back,” she said. “There were a couple of established programs for girls; however, this ties back into me being a leader and doing my own thing.”

It wasn’t long before she was thinking beyond the 90 feet of hardwood she called home.

Recalling her determination to blaze her own path as a coach, Leffall decided to start her own organization, structured and operated by her experiences and values.

Leffall loves giving back to her commu nity via Nebraska Pearls, though she can’t support it alone. That’s why she applied for and received a special grant to help fund the program.

She explained how EPIC (Equal Play Inspiring Confidence) for Girls awarded the Pearls operations funding for the 20222023 season. “This was a major win for the program. For the first year, we operated from my own expense, my family and friends, donations from Pearls athletes’ families and friends, fundraisers, and community donations.”

“I wanted to instill things into girls early, so as they move on in their playing careers, they know what to expect…because they have already been exposed to things like conditioning, training, grade checks, and volunteering. I wanted my program to be about more than just basketball ,” she said.

Born during the pandemic in 2020, Nebraska Pearls' mission is to weave com munity among teammates, off-court devel opment, and on-court excellence.

“I always say we just lucked into her,” said Pearls’ assistant coach Jarad Pedersen, who signed up his own daughter, Ada, to play for Leffall when the team was still part of the YMCA.

“Having Ada see Cherylle and who she is has helped her so much. Seeing a strong woman demonstrate leadership, be supportive…to learn that when times are tough, you perse vere,” Pedersen said. “It’s not just basketball. It’s about life, in a way. It’s helped me, too, honestly. It’s like a family, with everyone pitching in to help the young ladies become phenome nal people.”

The Pearls aren’t ready for harvest quite yet, but with Coach Leffall and their families cultivating their growth, when they’re ready, it will be a thing of beauty.

Visit for more information.

” -Ja rad
Left: Coach Cherylle Leffall with members of the Neb raska Pearls



s a fresh Westside High School graduate in the summer of 2017, Emma Boyd decided to embark on a road less traveled.

While some friends prepared for college, Boyd moved away from Omaha for the first time to volunteer with AmeriCorps NCCC, a fulltime national service program where young adults live and work across the country in areas hit hard by natura l disasters.

Boyd remembers sitting on a plane to Florida when a random passenger heard her cohort would be aiding in relief efforts almost six months after Hurricane Irma had hit the community.

“‘Oh, aren’t you kind of late to be going?’” Boyd recalled the passenger saying.

For the next six weeks, Boyd tarped roofs and gutted houses destroyed in the storm. She witnessed another complex aftermath when she extended her AmeriCorps term five weeks to work in Puerto Rico almost a year after Hurricane Maria hit the island.

“We get so looped on our news cycles that we think that disaster means once the water goes away, once the immediate damage is over, that people’s lives are back to normal,” Boyd said.

That time after the news cameras and jour nalists had left “threw her into understand ing” the lasting impact disaster leaves on a community, even when the rest of the world moves on.

Boyd, now 23, graduated in May from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with her bachelor’s degree in emergency manage ment and disaster science. From May to October, she worked as an AmeriCorps member once again, this time as a shel ter advocate and garden manager at New Visions Homeless Services an outreach program that helps people experiencing housing and food insecurity in Council Bluff s and Omaha.

Emma Boyd Leans Into Service Fo r Her C ity

In Boyd’s time as an AmeriCorps member at New Visions, she’s taken the reins on growing the nonprofit’s typically volunteerreliant garden, said Heather Beekhuizen, a community liaison at New Visions and Boyd’s supervisor. Boyd’s leadership and work brought forth a harvest of hundreds of pounds of food that was cooked into free meals for guests multiple t imes a week.

“She figures out what to do and does it,” Beekhuizen said. She saw how Boyd’s approachable and kind character helped guests feel more comfortable.

That’s Boyd’s favorite part of the job build ing relationships with the guests at New Visions; typically men staying at the shelter or stopping in for a meal.

“The isolation that people experiencing home lessness have from our communities and soci ety, in general, is really significant,” she said. “As individuals and as a community not engaging with the homeless population, we’re doing ourselves a disservice because we’re not only isolating them from us, we’re isolating ourselves from them.”

While studying at UNO, Boyd knew she’d learn about the disaster cycle: the phases of prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery that governments and civil societies rotate through when crises hit.

“But another part of it that I learned about was how general community resilience has such an influence on how communities and individuals rebound after disasters,” she said.

Boyd has discerned that Omaha is the place she needs to be right now.


// GEN O //

“We get so looped on our news cycles that we think that disaster means once the water goes away, once the immediate damage is over, that people’s li ves are back to normal.”



2023 W nner

“I’ve learned...we can help a community more when we’re familiar and we’ve been in it for most of our lives,” she said. “I’m trying to lean into that idea and see what that does.”

So far, it’s working out for her.

Boyd works full time as a youth pro gramming coordinator at Countryside Church, the congregation she attended while growing up in central Omaha. In her role, she gets to help reshape and improve programming that was formative for her in high school.

She’s helped facilitate youth programs as safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ students involved in the church. She’s also thinking about how programs can be more inten tional in engaging high schoolers who attend predominantly white schools and a primarily white church to serve Omaha’s diverse communities.

The lessons Boyd has learned and articu lates so well during her nights chatting with guests while watering the New Visions shelter garden, mornings gutting hurri cane-torn houses, and afternoons spent with high schoolers at a central Omaha church group suggest a maturity beyond her 23 years. How to best serve her com munity is a regular theme of conversation with her two roommates in the house they rent near the Joslyn Castle ne ighborhood .

“I’m like, ‘how can I do as much as possible at once, but also be aware that I can’t save the planet on a Tuesday?’” Boyd said with a laugh before pausing. “I like the idea that we as individuals can be that bridge for access to different things and access to different envi ronments.”

Visit for more information on v olunteering.



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-Emma Boyd





Annual TeamMates Mentoring Gala


Location: Embassy Suites, La Vista Founded in 1991 by Dr. Tom and Nancy Osborne, the TeamMates Mentoring Program invites you to be a part of its annual gala celebrating the program and the impact mentoring can have on a student’s life. Hosted by former Husker Football coach Tom Osborne, the special evening will also feature special guest speakers (made possible by Nebraska Crossing), including former NFL quarterback Drew Brees. TeamMates has served more than 43,000 youths across five states. —

Nov 2


Benefits: Assistance League of Omaha Location: Champions Run —

Nov 3


Benefits: Assistance League of Omaha Location: various —

Nov 3


Benefits: Children’s Square USA Location: Mid-America Center —

Nov 4


Benefits: Teammates Location: La Vista Embassy Suites —


Nov 4


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Nov 6


Benefits: Ollie Webb Center Location: Various —

Nov 9


Benefits: The Kim Foundation Location: La Vista Embassy Suites —

Nov 10


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Nov 10


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Nov 10


Benefits: Nonprofit Association of the Midlands Location: La Vista Embassy Suites —

Nov 10


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HEROES IN ACTION Benefits: March of Dimes Location: SAC Museum —

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Benefits: Food Bank of the Heartland Location: Glenn Cunningham Lake —

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Benefits: Ava’s Army Location: A View West Shores — sidekicks/avas-army

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Dec. 02

Benefits: Omaha Children’s Museum

Location: Omaha Children’s Museum —

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continue d from pg.33


Both Nathaniel Owens and Michael Glissman suffered lethal fentanyl over doses in their vehicles. One man is alive today. The other, buried by his family. The critical difference someone was there. In Owens’ case, it was a matter of sheer luck. However, outside of abstaining from drug use entirely, the most important factors in the face of the fentanyl crisis are: uti lizing test kits/strips, keeping NARCAN within reach, and perhaps most impor tantly, having someone else nearby who isn’t using (or using at the same time, at least) to administer aid and call for help. It’s important to remember that under Nebraska’s “Good Samaritan” statute, those who report an overdose in good faith are exempt from both civil and criminal liability. Recovery is a process. The fol lowing resources are availabl e in Omaha:

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As executive director for Nebraska Wildlife Rehab, Laura Stastny has a thousand stories from years of rescuing, rehabilitating, and re-homing wild ani mals. During her career, she’s dealt with everything from raccoons and opossums to waterfowl and foxes.

But she’s never seen an animal quite like Scott Hansen.

“Scott is one in a million,” she said. “Rescues can be very difficult, and Scott’s got a really broad range of skills. He can think like an animal, so he has the mind to catch an animal, but he is also very fit and very fast. He’s our go-to person for our most difficult field rescues.”

For Hansen, 45, rescues are what he loves most about volunteering for NWR. (He’s a facilities manager with Merck Animal Health for his day job.) There’s virtually no situation a wild animal can get into from which he can’t extract them, often in spectacula r fashion.

“I am an adventurist. I do take risks,” he said. “That’s part of why they send me on these things because while I do have a very strong safety focus, I take enough risks to have the best chance for success.”

Over the past decade, Hansen’s volume of rescues reads like panels from a superhero comic. He’s leaned out of speedboats to snag an injured goose, paddled a kayak in subzero temperatures to rescue a pelican, helped relocate an entire prairie dog town, and re-homed countless orphaned critters. He’s twice jumped off a speeding airboat once when it was headed for shore with the bird in its path. Hansen famously stepped off the bow, scooped the bird to safety with a net, and landed on dry land without so much as a scratch or a splash.

“For the most part I work locally, but I have contributed statewide,” he said. “I’ve gone three hours just to pick up a raccoon. I’ve driven a couple of hours to find some orphan badgers near Norfolk. My favorite, by far, are pelican rescues because they’re so fun. It’s always an adventure.”

Waterfowl are the most common of Hansen’s assignments, as birds find their way to lakes in parks and residential developments. Some, such as pelicans, are too lost or too hurt to continue their migration. Others, like ducks and geese, are fed by well-intentioned residents and thus incentivized to stick around until the inevitable happens


Scott Hansen walks on the wild side resc uing animals


“They get caught in fishing line, that’s the most common thing,” Hansen said. “Discarded fishing line gets tangled around their feet or their bill or some other body part. It cuts off circulation, it digs into tis sues, and it can keep them from performing normal activities like paddling. Or, if they can’t move one of their feet, maybe they can’t fly so they just have to stay on the ground or on the water.”

Another highlight of Hansen’s volunteer work is NWR’s bat rescue which culminates with a public release party, most recently at Joslyn Art Museum. The event has been on hiatus since COVID in 2020, but Hansen has high hopes it will retu rn in 2023.

“Starting in October, any bat that’s captured we’ll keep until the following spring. If it’s cold out, there’s no insects for it to eat, so it can’t be released,” he said. Typically, between 1,000 and 1,500 people attend, including many families, to learn about bats and watch t he release.

“It’s not this massive cloud of bats where 300 bats take off all at once,” Hansen explained. “Five or six of us volunteers take 75 or so bats and take turns releasing them from our hands, one at a time. It’s a fun thing, and we’re hoping we can rejuvenate that event next year.”

Heroics aside, Hansen said he enjoys serv ing an organization that helps people do the right thing, as well as servicing the anim al’s needs.

“They call us about an animal because they care, but they don’t know what to do. The respect and the gratitude that most people give back in return is something that makes me happy because I did something that made them happy,” he said.

“The whole point is to give the animal another chance at its normal life, one that it should have had, had it not gotten hurt or orphaned. You want to help the animal because nobody wants to see the animal suffer. I feed off of other people being grateful that I was there. I like to be there for somebody else.”

Visit for more information.

“The whole point is to give the animal another chance at its normal life, one that it should have had, had it not gotten hurt or orphaned.” Scott Hansen
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Lo Sole Mio Lives on in Memories


The final weekend before the closure of Lo Sole Mio Ristorante, fans lined up–sometimes waiting hours–for a last taste of the authentic Italian cuisine and warm greetings served by owners, Marie and Don Losole. From the moment the couple announced the end of a three-decade run, memories have flooded social media. For many, it’s like losing a second home; hardly a single anecdote doesn’t mention family.

The best food, the aphorism goes, is made with love. That was never more true than at this South Omaha landmark restaurant and banquet hall on South 32nd Avenue, where the Losole’s old-world hospi tality in fused their specialty dishes.

The family’s story is worthy of an opera. Start with post-war Italian orphan Marie begging in the streets before being adopted by an American family and meeting her true love, Don Losole, in Omaha, where they eloped at 18. The couple embarked on a food industry career culminating with the opening of Lo Sole Mio in 1992. Tragedy ensued in 2013 when their son, Dino, died in a motorcycle crash, effectively ending plans to pass it on to the next generation.

Though the restaurant and Villa banquet hall are no longer open, memories live on. “That’s what we always wanted to do–to help create memories for people of what a good time they had,” Marie said. She called the outpouring of memories by devoted customers “overwhelming and humbling.” Her husband Don added, “It’s hard to believe.”

Typical of comments on social media, Theresa Turk recalled Lo Sole Mio cater ing her wedding reception. “To this day I still have people remark about the food. The marriage may not have lasted, but the memories of the food did.”

Amanda Colanino-Dickinson expressed thanks to the couple “for being not only an Omaha staple but a family staple–we celebrated lots of family ev ents there.”

Similarly, Tony and Mary DeSanti remembered spending many special family

occasions at Lo Solo Mio and the Villa.

Two of which were their retirement parties and 50th wedding anniversary celebration.

For Tara McGrail, Lo Sole Mio has been inseparable from life with her husband, Ryan. “One of the very first places [he] took me on a date was Lo Sole Mio. It became our special place.” They cel ebrated their engagement dinner there and the prenuptial dinner was in the Villa. “To this day, friends talk about that meal and how gr eat it was.”

Jan Colanino said that a Lo Sole Mio experience came down to food, atmo sphere, and family. “My favorite time of year to visit was winter. It could be cold and nasty outside, but the restaurant was warm and cozy and smelled so good.”

Jeanie Agosta Harrell recalled celebrat ing her 50th Marian High School class reunion. “True to form, Lo Sole Mio did not disappoint. The staff was amazing, Marie came by to make sure everything was perfect, wh ich it was.”

The heartwarming stories don’t surprise Marie. “We were a destination restaurant and celebratory place,” she said. “We’re very honored, blessed, and humbled about how people felt they should spend these special times with us…they made our dream come true. They’re a part of our dream. You can’t put a price or ceil ing on it. It’s such a warm, wonderful, loving feeling that you actually became a part of their life…because you helped to make it special.”

Jim Abraham said he and wife Barb appreciated how diners were always made to feel a part of the family. “It is really hard to create that kind of environment in a restaurant, but Don and Marie pul led it off.”

Patrons’ nostalgia often references their favorite meals: pasta e pomodori, pasta alla carbonara, stracciatella, and baked lasagna, some of which will be featured in a book Marie is planning. She still cooks Sunday family dinner the way her mother and grandmother did and knows well that sensory food memories linger in the mind and are triggered by tastes and smells.

Growing up across the street from the restaurant, Kateri Petto regarded the Losoles as more than restaurateurs. When her father became wheelchairbound, Dino and some of the kitchen crew built him a ramp. When he died, Marie showed up with pans of food. “I can’t begin to explain how much that meant to my family,” she said. “While we miss the sweet smell of garlic and red sauce, the foot traffic from eager patrons and kind workers, we will miss seeing Don and Marie the most.”

Meanwhile, Marie and Don continue receiving texts, emails, and phone calls. More than customers, she said, “These people are friends we’re in each other ’s lives.”

Update: In early October, the Losoles leased their former restaurant building to Lance and Sara Brown, who plan to open a new Italian eatery onsite. The couple hopes to debut The Mio, named in tribute to the former tenant, by the end of the year. The Villa banquet facility has also been leased to a Puerto Rican culinary outfit, Chinchorro Caribbean Bistro, which will bring a new ethni c flavor to the neighborhood.

“We’re very honored, blessed, and humbled about how people felt they should spend these special times with us…They made our dream come true. They’re a part of our dream. You can’t put a price or ceiling on it. It’s such a warm, wonderful, loving feeling that you actually became a part of their life…because you helped to make i t special.”
-Marie Losole


9 Across; 12 Letters; Clue: Burgeoning Mystery Novelist from Omaha. Answer: Louise Foster.

“There’s a crossword puzzle at the begin ning of every chapter, a clue that relates to that particular scene,” explained Louise Foster, author of A Crossword Puzzle Cozy Myst ery series.

“There’s a crossword puzzle at the beginning of every chapter, a clue that relates to that par t ic ular scene.”

-L ouise Foster

“My protagonist […] she creates cross word puzzles and sells them to online venues, and that’s kind of a running theme. She makes these mental crossword puzzles for each case. She loves puzzles, but she hates leaving one unfinished. So, once she creates the puzzle…she’s got to finish the puzzle.”

In a nod to one of Foster’s child hood favorites Trixie Belden, a more grounded, middle-class ‘detective girl’ counterpart to the affluent and pristine Nancy Drew Crossword Puzzle Cozy Mystery’s events are relayed from the first-person perspective of protagonist Tracy Belden. Tracy is a single/surrogate mom whose entry into private investiga tion was more of a budgetary consid eration than a desired career pivot. At fi rst, anyway.

“I live in a downtown apartment and work three jobs […]” reflects Tracy in the opening pages of An Ex in the Puzzle, Foster’s debut novel. “In whatever spare time I have left, I create crossword puzzles and sell them to several on-line sites. The pay barely keeps me in flavored coffee, but it’s my first love and by far the most entertaining,” Tra cy explains.

Though Foster enjoyed a steady, 40-year tenure at Nebraska Medicine perform ing various roles before settling into information technology Tracy’s words echo a plight negotiated by virtually all aspiring authors: when, and how, to take the profess ional leap.

“I loved my team, I loved my work, I really enjoyed it,” Foster said of her career at Nebraska Medicine. “But, I’d been writing for a long time 23 years when I tried to break into traditional publishing and I came close so many times…and then several years ago, a friend of mine said, ‘Why don’t you selfpublish them? It’s so eas y anymore.’”

“I already had the manuscripts written, so I waited,” she continued. “I worked with a professional publisher and had professional covers done. The first one came out in June 2021; then July, August, September. But then there’s the marketing and trying to get the word out, and I was still working full time. That was the main reason I retired…just to have more time.”

Foster’s measured approach yielded encouraging results. The quick succes sion of titles provided ample material to entice first-time readers, while pro viding content-hungry fans immediate satisfaction. In another reader-friendly move, Crossword Puzzle Cozy Mystery takes an episodic approach to storytell ing plots loosely tethered by a core cast of characters, the fictional resort town of Langsdale, Nevada, and of course, crossword puzzles. This means readers can pick up 2022’s Five Clues to a Killer (the series’ fifth entry), and dive straight into Two Down in Tahoe (Foster’s sopho more effort) without missing a beat, if they’d like.

“They’re all stand-alone, there’s no over arching theme where you have to read them in order,” Foster explained. “To me it’s more about the investigation; the puzzle aspect of putting pieces together. There’s a lot less angst to it, compared to the suspense murders. So, it’s kind of like I’m writing to myself as a reader. I know what sells because I know what I like and I like ‘em fast-paced.”

Foster first began pursuing writing seri ously in her 30s, the daunting task of planning and penning a full-length novel quickly becoming apparent. She turned to one of the few writers’ groups that accepted unpublished authors: Romance Writers of the Heartland. She gained valuable advice and editing help from its members, plus i nsight into her methodology.

“There’s two different kind of thought in writing, the plotters people who plot everything out, they know where it’s going from the beginning and then the ‘seat of the pants,’ or ‘pantsers.’ I’m defi nitely seat of the pants,” Foster conceded. “I don’t know a lot of the clues until I write them, I’m not sure who’s going be killed, and honestly, how they’re going to be killed. I never know who’s guilty ahead of time. Whoever comes on scene or comes on stage, that’s wh at I write.”

While online connections helped her understand and hone her craft, Foster noted she couldn’t have made it this far without the love and encouragement of her family.

“There’s two different kind of thought in writing, the plotters — people

plot everything out, they know where it’s going from the begin ning — and then the ‘seat of the pants,’ or ‘pantsers.’ I’m definitely seat of the pants.”

-L ouise Foster

“Honestly, from the beginning, they never doubted that I would get published someday,” she said. “All the years that I wrote, they always supported me, and since [the books] came out, they’ve been my biggest fan club. That’s who I dedi cated my first book to, because they’ve been unbelieva bly great.”

Now, Foster and Tracy are set to wrap up another crossword thriller just in time for mystery enthusiasts to cozy up with this holiday season: a Christmasthemed novella. However, at time of writing, one tantalizing mystery yet remains: While “Glue Guns for Christmas” is the clear frontrunner for Foster at time of writing, there’s an ever-so-slight chance the title could change in the interim. Curious readers will have to investigate for themselves when the novella releases December 1 on Amaz on Kindle.

Visit fo r more info.


Santa Claus Is Back In Town!

Bob Gleisberg Brings the Magic of Christmas

eople of all ages are ready to see Santa again in person and celebrate the traditions that, for the past two years, have been modified or canceled due to COVID precautions. Bob Gleisberg, or “Santa,” as he is known to many in the Omaha area, is ready to bring back the magic of Christmas.

For over a decade, Bob has played the part of Santa Claus. Since 2014, he has made annual appearances for local non profit organizations and corporate events. Now retired from a career in the Air Force, Bob got his start playing Santa when his own children were young and the family was stationed in Terceira, Azores Islands, in the North Atlantic. He was asked to play Santa at a children’s Christmas party to which his own children we re invited.

“I told my kids I had to work and would come to the party as soon as I was through. When my family showed up, my middle child heard my voice…and saw Santa instead of me,” Bob said. As a young girl, it ruined the magic of Christmas to dis cover that it was just her dad in a Santa suit. “It was painful for me, too. I decided that if I do this again, I want to be sure that I’m adding and not detracting from someone’s Christmas. That was 1993, and there was a big gap to when I picked up being Santa again in 2014 ,” he said.

Everything about Bob’s approach to being Santa is genuine and respectful of one of the most beloved figures in the world. He even graduated from the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland , Michigan.

“I have some of the natural charac teristics of Santa,” he said. “There’s no need to stuff my suit! I’ve got a big belly and a natural beard and people thought that I would be a g o od Santa.”

Most of the year, Bob’s hair is salt-andpepper. His stylist of several years starts the process of bleaching his hair, eye brows, and beard back to white in early fall. He sees his stylist a minimum of three times, every six weeks, to make his hair snow white for the holiday season. Bob keeps the beard throughout the year, although his wife, Rose, hates it. But she’s on board because of the Santa gig, often accompanying him when he performs as Santa, though not taking on the role of Mrs. Claus.

“I didn’t want to be Mrs. Claus because you have to be demure…It’s just not me,” she said. Rose prefers a green dress with fur around the skirt and candy-canestriped tights to complete her festive look. “Tinsel,” as she is known, can be more playful in this role. She still lets Santa take the spotlight and enjoys being the assistant. A former school teacher, Rose loves helping bring fantasy and wonderment t o families.

“I see how serious he is about Santa. He is particular about the believing part of it,” she said. “It’s not that children should live in an unrealistic world, but that they should have something to believe in and something to hold on to.”

Seeing so much anger in kids today, her advice to parents is to hang on to the magic a little bit longer. “I grew up very poor…I feel for some of these kids. Even though I didn’t have anything, I can make a difference for others now,” she said.

Bob has worked with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), Completely Kids, Omaha Children’s Museum, Knights of Columbus, and sev eral others. His experiences as a Santa are those most would expect, complete with wish lists for toys, who’s on the naughty or nice list, and what t he reindeer like to eat.

The conversations that stand out are the ones that make him realize not every child is seeking the latest toy. As Santa, he often takes on the role of a counselor when a child is struggling. He recalled a request from a young teen that warmed his heart. “We chatted but he was past the age of believing. He told me he didn’t want anything for Christmas but his family to be together again,” Bob said.

Another fond memory he recalled was that of a child with multiple challenges who had come to visit Santa. “This young boy was seeing-impaired, had mobility issues, and I’m not sure he could really see me…I held out my arms so he could touch my sleeve and he pulled himself closer to me to get more of the texture. We hugged for a time and it was the best hug in all of my Santa ex perience s,” he said.

Bob has had many wonderful experiences as Santa but none could prepare him or the rest of the world for Christmas during a pandemic. In 2020, he worked with a local news station that offered a drive-through family festival. “They had me seated in a sleigh, outdoors on a corner, and I was able to chat briefly with the kids,” he said. “I went hoarse because we were 15 to 20 f eet apart.”

Bob made himself available via Zoom in 2020 and 2021 while people were still cautious about hosting in-person events. “The past two years, events were next to zero. I did virtual events in ’20 and ’21 but this year, the virtual business is gone; people want a more personal visit,” he said. And he is already making plans to make that happen. “I’ve been vaccinated, got both boosters, I even had COVID, and have taken all of the pre cautions.”

“I have some of the natural characteristics of Santa, There’s no need to stuff my suit! I’ve got a big belly and a natural beard and people thought that I would be a g ood Santa.”
ob Gleisberg

To boost his Santa-for-hire business, Bob joined GigSalad, an online search engine for performers and artists. The majority of his business has been word-of-mouth and he’s hoping the new affiliation will increase his jobs this year. With the expense of purchasing a new suit, dry cleaning existing suits, plus the salon visits, he needs more work to be able to pay f or it all.

A report from the Washington Examiner in 2021 cited a Santa shortage in the United States. With so many Santa Claus entertainers at high risk to contract COVID, they have sat out the past two years or retired. Bob i s ready for the demand.

A client for the past four years, Brittney LaHayne of The Honor Group at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, said he is fabulous to work with. LaHayne hosts an annual Christmas party for her clients, and they love the consistency he brings. “He interacts with the kids [and] is by far the best Santa we hav e ever had.”

LaHayne expects parties to be a bigger deal this year; more families are will ing to go out now, and they prefer open house-style events. She recommends doing background checks on the Santa you intend to hire which Bob can provide, in addition to his credentials from Santa School. She also recommends asking friends whom they’ve hired and their experience.

“My favorite part is always when he first walks in,” LaHayne said. “He is always particular about the location a special spot to change and get ready. He makes a big show when he walks in with his jingle bells.” LaHayne said that it’s been fun to see how Santa interacts with her 4- and 8-year-old children. “They love him, for sure.”

“It’s not that children should live in an unrealistic world, but that they should have something to believe in and something to hold on to.”
-Ro se Gleisberg

Omaha Dance Venues


Whether you’ve just finished dining out and the night seems too young to call it quits, or it's been a really long work week and you just want to let loose, hitting the dance floor at one of Omaha’s nightclubs might be just the fix you’re looking for. Here are a few of the metro’s lively venues for n ightlife.


15475 Ruggles St., Omaha

Northwest Omaha’s only dance club, Retro Rewind hosts “Getting Jiggy with the ’90s” every Thursday, with halfprice drinks until 9 p.m. Dance up a storm to the Fresh Prince, MC Hammer, George Michael and more turn of the century faves. On weekends, patrons can enjoy “I Want My MTV” Fridays and a Saturday Night Club mix, with hits exclusively from the ’80s, from Madonna, Prince, Michael Jackson, and more. This club is exclusively for those 21 and older. Open Thursday-Saturday 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.


7401 Main St., Ralston

Open 35-plus years, this hot spot in downtown Ralston features a barn-looking interior, a hand-crafted bar imported from Belgium, and wide open dance floor, where guests can take line dancing lessons every Thursday and Friday night. In addition to a fun, contemporary Country music playlist, the venue hosts live, local musical acts, and an 18+ College Night every Thursday. Open TuesdaySaturday 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.

4 5 6


10841 Q St., Omaha

The electric nightlife in this venue, recently updated and hidden in a nondescript strip mall in southwest Omaha, is sure to set the tone for a groovy night on the town. A Ca ribbean-inspired playlist and menu, fun holiday-themed events, an ultra-exclusive lounge, and high-energy dance floor make this a popular weekend destination. This is a 21+ only venue.

Open Thursday-Saturday 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.


8520 Park Dr., Omaha

This large entertainment venue on the edge of Ralston hosts “Wild Wednesdays” with free dance lessons and no cover charge for patrons. Fridays are Ladies Night, with more free dance lessons, free cover, and free shots— perfect for GNOs. Stocks N Bonds plays a wide variety of music from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, but Country is king on the dance floor. Open Wednesdays 6 p.m. -11 p.m. / Thursdays-Saturdays 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.




1417 Jackson St., Omaha

In Downtown Omaha, this large, multilevel gay bar and club has two dance floors—The Disco dance floor and The Arena show floor, as well as a stage and upper level lounge/ billiards room and outdoor patio. Next-level lighting and audio systems enhance the look and sound with lasers and LED lights for an immersive experience. This perennial favorite dance club also hosts special engagements by a variety of performers nearly every night. This is an 21+ only venue. Open Thursday-Saturday 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

1402 Howard St., Downtown Omaha

This ’80s-style nightclub in Omaha’s Old Market features an LED dance floor, a two-tiered rooftop patio, and VIP bottle service. When guests need to take a dance break, they can play free retro arcade games and table games scattered throughout the bar. Think Jenga, Beer Pong, and more. Check out Gen X Fridays for some middle-age fun. This is a 21+ only venue. Open Thursday-Sunday 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.


Dining Feature

Cascio’s Steak house

76 Years of Sizzle


Cascio’s 14 oz. Bone-in Ribeye with a la carte gr illed shrimp

Cascio’s Steakhouse is often recognized not just for the quality of its food, but for its place in Omaha’s history. Opened in 1946 by two brothers of immigrant parents, this restaurant has managed to stay open as so many other restaurants of that era closed their doors.

STORY tamsen butler PHOTOGRAPHY bill sitzmann DESIGN matt wieczorek
“We have a loyal clientele base, and there are around 50 to 60 customers who come here daily for lunch and don’t miss. It’s restaurants without a true foundation of customers that fail.”
Alfie Cascio Cascio’s Chicken Parmigiano, a custo mer favorite

said Alfie Cascio, current owner, and the grandson and great-nephew of the original owners. “It’s the last Italian steakhouse of the original 19; I’m the third generation of owners.” His father, Larry, owned Cascio’s Steakhouse before passing it a long to him.

Even as other historic restaurants have struggled to stave off closure, the Omaha staple perserveres thanks to a combina tion of winning qualities. “It takes hard work and dedication and a good wife who is supportive even though I’m never home,” C ascio said.

The restaurant opens at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday, but Cascio typically arrives around 7:30 a.m. “We have to grind every day,” he said.

A dedicated group of employees is cru cial to a restaurant’s success, he added. In an industry with a notoriously high turnover rate (one that rose exponen tially during the pandemic), Cascio’s Steakhouse boasts some long-time employees with careers that span decades. “Two guys who have been here one for 36 years and the other for 44 years started when they were young and have been here ever since.”

Cascio appreciates his employees and said they are the backbone of the restaurant. “I wouldn’t be able to do it all without my general manager, Lacey Sheibal,” he added. “Be fair to your employees and they’ll be fair to you. They’re my family. Everyone gets along.” Cascio’s also gained six or seven employ ees from Anthony’s Steakhouse and Lo Sole Mio after their respective closings. He admitted he was shocked when Anthony’s shuttered its doors. “When Tony [Fucinaro, Jr., who was the owner of Anthony’s Steakhouse] told me he was closing, I told him he was full of it there was no way th ey’d close.”

Integrating the new employees into the way things are done at Cascio’s took some time. “Since they brought differ ent cooking styles, we had to spend time teaching them our way,” Cascio said. “I spent about five months in the kitchen, prepping a nd cooking.”

The restaurateur was happy to bring on the additional employees. “It’s hard to find good workers,” he said, adding that his employee roster fell to about 30 at the height of COVID. “I like it to be around 40 to 45 employees, and right now it’s around 40.”

Like most restaurants, supply-chain issues and shortages hit Cascio’s hard. They import their pasta from Italy, and during a wheat shortage, some variet ies remain unavailable, much to some custome rs’ chagrin.

Luckily, Cascio’s has earned a solid group of dedicated patrons.“We have a loyal clientele base, and there are around 50 to 60 customers who come here daily for lunch and don’t miss,” said Cascio. “It’s restaurants without a true founda tion of customers that fail.”

The owner said that if you treat your customers right, they'll return the favor. He recently donated 30 gallons of Cascio’s Italian dressing to a Shriner’s event, “And the next thing I knew, they booked two parties,” he shared.

The area around Cascio’s Steakhouse has recently experienced a revitalization, attracting new clientele. “The neighbor hood is changing,” Cascio said. “They’re fixing up houses and apartments. It’s really growing. People can walk to our restaurant now from their homes, so that helps, too.”

Recent renovations are also changing the restaurant’s look by transforming the lower level into an event venue.

The last time the business underwent any changes was during COVID when it repainted the upstairs. “The downstairs really needed some renovations,” said Cascio, adding that an ADA-compliant wheelchair ramp was included in the renovations, which began in April 2022 and was completed aroun d September.

The lower-level renovations created an ideal environment for wedding recep tions and other large gatherings. “It’s all cosmetic,” Cascio said.“We brought in new bars, ripped out the carpet, and gave it a more industrial look.” The upgrades give the space a modern ized feel that enticed some brides and grooms-to-be to book the venue even before renovations were complete. The first couple to have their wedding reception in the new event space was Cascio’s daughter, Bailey, and her nowhu sband, Seth.

While Cascio continues to future-proof his restaurant, the tranquil days of retire ment are calling. “In 10 years, when I turn 60, I’m done with 46 years in the restaurant business,” he said. The ques tion of who will take over the restaurant is not yet determined, but he’s certain it won’t be one of h is children.

“The kids have all worked here, and they know how hard it is,” he said. “They know all about working holidays and weekends. That fourth generation wants to do their own thing, and I don’t blame them.” Cascio has a lot of pride in the life paths his children chose even if they didn’t lead to the restaurant industry and back to Cascio’s.

“Maybe a cousin or niece will take over,” Cascio mused. “I’d love to keep it in t he family.”

For now, Cascio’s Steakhouse continues to provide the food and ambiance for which it’s become famous in Omaha. As the neighborhood and the city’s restau rant scene continue to evolve, Cascio’s remains a constant.

Visit for more information.

“We’ve been open for 76 years,”

Chef Johnny Shi of Dra gon Cafe and Yamato Sushi Train & Grill

Johnny Shi delights in paving the intersection between food and people. During his travels from the kitchen to the front of the house, he searches for this interaction. Dragon Cafe, which opened twenty years ago, is where Shi is frequently found smiling as he oversees the stir fry or brings out a securely fastened to-go order. You might also catch him at Yamato Sushi Train & Grill, where guests pluck morsels from a perpetually rolling conveyor belt.

Shi’s journey to Nebraska began about 7,200 miles away, in the Fujian province of China in the city of Fuzhou, which he called home until his parents moved the family to New York his 7th-grade year in 1995. After middle school, a move to Erie, Pennsylvania, for high school connected him with his uncle, Foon-chi Cheng. Shi said he considers his uncle, who influenced his rigorous approach to food and taught him how to hold a knife, “the family tie to restaurants.”

After school was done for the day, “my uncle would pick me up and then go to the restaurant China Moon and I would help out. So I slowly learned everything. I learned how to cut chicken, how to take the bones out from the chicken that’s how I started. Learning how to cook fried rice, doing the fryer…I was 13.” During summer break, the young Shi assisted his mother at Sunrise, the family’s Long Island, New York, restaurant.

This early experience with family and food prepared him for a life in the kitchen.

Sunrise, for example, cultivated his multitasking skills. “You had to answer the phone, you had to pack the food, then you also had to watch the fryer… they had those BBQ I had to watch that, too. I basically had to be in four different positions,” the chef recounted. In addition to this physi cal multitasking, there were also psy chological challenges. Customers were sometimes unkind to him over issues with orders, as he worked with them in English while communicating with the kitchen in his native language.

In 2001, a friend of Shi’s mother ran a restaurant called Little Dragon in the Midwest, and a cross-country move landed the family in Ottawa, Kansas. Shi said, “I’ve never been to a small town like that. It was a pretty big difference for me.” His role there involved a similar blend of front-and backof-house work lasting until 2002 when a newspaper ad presented an opportunity: a restaurant for sale. Several hours away, in La Vista, was the family’s soon-to-be business, Dragon Cafe.

Shi’s mother and uncle purchased the restaurant, and with it came recipes and sauces. “Chinese food here in the United States like Broccoli Beef and General Tso’s Chicken they are all prepared about the same way,” Shi explained. “It’s just the sauce that’s a little bit different.”

Employee Tony Lee has worked with Shi for about 11 years, and while he learned wok skills from the Dragon Cafe’s cooks, he said, “Sushi-wise, I learned it from Johnny.” He also relayed that Shi can cook every item on the restaurant’s menu, which tops well over 100 dishes.

Knowing how the food reacts to the cooking process is one way Shi keeps an eye on excellence. Lee shared, “Saucewise if there is something wrong, I go tell him. He’ll fix it right away.” For example, when preparing broccoli beef to-go, Shi explained that cooks need to account for travel time. “You need to make the sauce thicker because broc coli always has water come out later. If you don’t put enough cornstarch, the customer will get broccoli in water.”

In 2011 Shi saw an opportunity to expand his restaurant by learning a new skill. He traveled back to New York to Bayridge Sushi in Brooklyn for a stage (as a stagiaire), the restaurant industry’s unpaid training tradition. "You don’t pay for the school, but they don’t pay you either,” he explained. Fortunately, Shi was a quick study. “Earn your honors and they will put you in the sushi bar,” he said. “Some people, it takes about a month for the owner to teach you how to cut the salmon. It took me about a week. I worked hard and then the owner looked at me like, ‘Oh, this guy really wants to learn.’”

That hard work paid off with the open ing of Yamato Sushi Train & Grill near Aksarben Village in 2017. Sushi lends itself to Shi’s creative nature. “I like to create,” he said. “You can create from your own mind, and later on, you have your own style.”

Visit visit dragoncafelav and for more information.


For expanded content, open the camera on your smart device and hover over the QR code above.

“I like to create. Yo u can create from your own mind, a nd later on, you have your own style.”
Chef Shi

A Breakfast Burger served with American cheese, bacon, grilled onions, fries, fried egg, and honey mustard

[ Din ing Review ]
[ Charred Burger + Bar ] // 72 // NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

Non-alcoholic versions of Charred’s flavored lemonades

Upon arriving at Charred Burger + Bar on a Saturday night, my guests and I were worried there would be a long wait because there were people standing in the doorway with the look that only hungry people have. But we were pleasantly surprised when the host said they could seat us immediately and even gave us the option of eating inside or outside on the patio.

[ ]
STORY tamsen butler PHOTOGRAPHY bill sitzmann DESIGN matt wieczorek

Fried Cheesy Pickles appetizer, served with ranch and jalapeño aioli for dipping

[My friend’s husband] remarked how his medium-rare burger was perfectly cooked, a feat he says most restaurants don’t manage to pull off successfully, in his experience.

[ Din ing Review ] [ ]

e chose to sit inside because, on this particular Saturday, it was blazing hot. The interior of Charred isn’t anything special, but it’s not unpleasant either. We sat in a booth and were promptly greeted by our server a jolly woman with an infectious laugh.

Though my husband and I stuck with water and iced tea, my friend and her husband both ordered vodka drinks, which came in mason jars with lids. My friend’s husband took the first sip of his cherry vodka lemonade and his eyes widened. “Oh, that’s dangerous!” he proclaimed, going on to say that the drink was tasty, and he could easily see himself ordering more than one and guzzling them down before he realized what he’d done. His wife reported her strawberry vodka lemonade was also good but made no claims about its danger level.

We shared fried cheesy pickles as an appetizer, and they were a big hit. A dill pickle spear eveloped in cheese and a wonton wrapper fried and served with ranch dressing and a jalapeño aioli made all of us pause as we considered how these fried pickles were unlike any we’d tried before.

Charred is known for its Waygu beef burgers, so my friend’s husband tried the Charred Burger, which featured peppered bacon, balsamic tomato jam, charred cotija cheese, onion, and lettuce. He remarked how his medium-rare burger was perfectly cooked, a feat he says most restaurants don’t manage to pull off successfully, in his experience.

My friend ordered the Carolina BBQ burger, which features cheddar cheese, Carolinastyle BBQ, coleslaw, onion straws, and bacon. She was happy with the burger. They shared an order of cheese fries, which our server persuaded them to load with bacon pieces. They tore through them quickly and thoroughly enjoyed every last one.

My husband ordered the jalapeño popper burger, which he said was exactly what he envisioned from the description on the menu. The burger had peppered bacon, cream cheese, and charred jalapeño. He enjoyed the toppings but remarked that the burger patty itself was exceptional. The beef was juicy and flavorful and made all the better by the toppings. He liked the fries he had on the side but wistfully commented that he would rather have a plate of fried pickles instead. I, on the other hand, thought the pickles were filling after just a couple of bites and can’t imagine eating more than one.

My order was the only disappointment of the meal. I ordered the chicken avocado sandwich with fries, which had a seared chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, pickled onions, cheddar cheese, and avocado. It looked delicious, but when I picked up the sandwich, the bottom bun was so soaked with something oil from

the cheese, or perhaps juice from the pickled onions. It started to fall apart as globs of cheese plopped onto the plate. It was a soggy mess and made the sandwich far less appetizing.

As far as the avocado portion of the sandwich goes, it was more of a quick pass of smashed avocado than the slice of avocado I’d expect to see in a sandwich with “avocado” in the name. And while the fries on the side were good, I definitely felt like I was the least happy with my meal.

We ordered a warm chocolate chip cookie for dessert, but wound up with the chocolate chip cookie sundae, a plate of vanilla bean ice cream with strawberries, chocolate drizzle, and walnuts. It was tasty and very sweet, but not what we wanted.

Our server was attentive and friendly but seemed as though she was covering far too many tables.

I’m not against visiting Charred Burger + Bar again, but if I do, I’m not getting the chicken avocado sandwich. I will, however, absolutely order the fried cheesy pickles. And if I’m feeling like a drink, I just might try that cherry vodka lemonade my friend’s husband made sound like a revelation.

Visit for more information.

A Charred Burger featuring peppered bacon, balsamic tomato jam, charred cotija, pickled onion, and lettuce



1311 South 203rd St., Omaha, NE 68130 - 402.504.1777

Barrel and Vine’s restaurant is an elevated food experience that is made from scratch daily with love in our kitchen. Our menu combines a mixture of Chef driven creative dishes, crave-able comfort meals and premium Nebraska steaks.

Barrel & Vine also doubles as a live music venue and offers a rooftop bar, outdoor patio with firepits, and dozens of high end bourbons, scotch, and over 100 wine selections. Come check out an experience that is like nothing else in Nebraska. Open 7 days a week. —


Seven Metro Area Locations: Bellevue - 10308 S. 23rd St. - 402.292.9096

Miracle Hills - 777 N. 114th St. - 402.498.8855

Downtown - 1003 Capitol Ave. - 402.763.9974

Aksarben - 2102 S. 67th St. - 402.933.3533

Millard - 17666 Welch Plaza - 402.933.8844

Elkhorn - 19020 Evans St. - 402.315.1985

Plattsmouth - 2405 Oak Hill Rd. - 402.298.4166

Voted Omaha’s #1 Sports Bar, DJ’s Dugout is locally and Vietnam Veteran owned. DJ’s Dugout features delicious burgers, wings, wraps, salads, sandwiches and an impressive drink menu. Plus, DJ’s has huge media walls full of HD TVs and projector screens. Catch all the action at DJ’s seven Omaha-area locations.

Dig In... At The Dugout! —


JAMS- $$

7814 Dodge St. - 402.399.8300 17070 Wright Plz, Ste. 100 - 402.810.9600 1101 Harney St. in the OldMarket - 402.614.9333

Jams is an Omaha restaurant legacy, an “American Grill” that offers a melting pot of different styles and varieties. The dishes are made with high-quality ingredients that pair well with award-winning wines or creative cocktails. —


69th & Pacific - 402.933.2776 177th and Center St. - 402.934.9914 156th St. & W. Dodge Rd. - 402.408.1728 120th and Blondo St. - 402.991.8222

Le Peep puts a wholesome perspective on your favorite neighborhood breakfast and lunch spot. Fresh. Simple. Elegant. Inviting. We put the emphasis on people, both patrons and staff. We focus on providing each of our guests the fresh food and friendly service that they have come to expect. Open daily 6:30 a.m.-2 p.m. — m

STELLA’S - $ 106 S. Galvin Road, Bellevue - 402.291.6088

Since 1936, we’ve been making our world-famous Stella’s hamburgers the same way. The family secrets have been handed down to each owner, ensuring that your burger is the same as the one you fell in love with the first time you tried Stella’s. And if it’s your first time, we know you’ll be back! Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., closed Sunday. —

T ED AND WALLY’S - $ 1120 Jackson St. - 402.341.5827

Come experience the true taste of homemade ice cream in the Old Market. Since 1986, we’ve created gourmet ice cream flavors in small batches using rock salt and ice. We offer your favorites, plus unique flavors like margarita, green tea, Guinness, and French toast. Special orders available. Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri.- Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sunday. Noon-10 p.m. —

// 76 // NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022 - Sponsored Content -
DINING GUIDE LEGEND $=$1-10 • $$=$10-20 • $$$=$20-30 • $$$$=$30+


Ralston - 9735 Q St. - 402.339.1944

Bellevue - 3504 Samson Way - 402.932.1944

Millard - 14529 F St. - 402.505.6660

Ralston, Bellevue, Millard and Dundee. We are truly grateful to have been welcomed into each of these communities and welcome you in for good food, a cold drink and a comfy seat to enjoy the sport of your choosing! Determined to bring only the freshest ingredients, homemade dough and our spe cialty sauces to the table, we have worked hard to perfect our craft for you. Our goal is to bring the best food service to the area and show the best sports events that you want to see. Pick up and Delivery availalble. Please check website for hours of operation.



PASTA AMORE - $$ 11027 Prairie Brook Rd. - 402.391.2585

Pastas are made fresh daily, including tortellini, fettuccine, and capellini. Daily specials and menu items include a variety of fresh seafood and regional Italian dishes, such as linguini amore and calamari steak, penne Florentine, gnocchi, spaghetti puttanesca, and osso buco. Filet mignon is also offered for those who appreciate nationally renowned Nebraska beef. To complement your dining experience, the restaurant offers a full bar and extensive wine list. Be sure to leave room for homemade desserts, like the tiramisu and cannoli. Monday-Thursday 9 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 10 p.m. Reservations recommended.

— m

DINING GUIDE Omaha thanks to our customers for voting us the BEST BURGER IN OMAHA “ServingWorldFamousHamburgersSince1936” 106 GALVIN RD., BELLEVUE, NE • 402-291-6088 • OPEN MONDAY - SATURDAY, 11 AM - 9 PM 2022 First Place Hamburger DINING GUIDE LEGEND $=$1-10 • $$=$10-20 • $$$=$20-30 • $$$$=$30+ (Easy access off I-80, take 72 Street Exit) 402.391.2950 . Call today to make your reservation Get aLittle Saucy. CALL FOR RESERVATIONS • 402-391-2950 SATURDAY LUNCH [11am–4 pm] SPEZIASPECIALTIES FRESH SEAFOOD • ANGUS BEEF INNOVATIVE PASTA • RISOTTO GNOCCHI • FRESH SALMON DAILY COCKTAIL HOUR MONDAY – SATURDAY 4 – 6 PM ALL COCKTAILS, GLASS WINE AND BEERS ARE HALF PRICE CENTRAL LOCATION • 3125 SOUTH 72ND STREET • EASY ACCESS OFF I-80 • 72ND STREET EXIT $10 OFFANY TICKETOVER $25 NO CASH VALUE. EXPIRES 12/31/2011 2022 Winner Italian Dining 2022 Winner Happy Hour 2022 Winner Appetizers SPECIAL FALL/ WINTER DINING FEATURES
// 78 // NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022 Home of the Whiskey Steak 2022 First Place Steakhouse @The Drover Restaurant & Lounge | Gift Cards Available 2121 S. 73 St. | (402) 391-7440 | Open Monday - Friday 11am - 2pm | Dinner nightly from 5pm 5 METRO Locations! 3 90th & Blondo 402.391.8870 3 146th & W Center 402.330.4160 3 96th & L . 402.331.5656 3 Galvin & Avery . 402.292.2028 3 29th & Farnam . 402.346.1110 Gracias Omaha for Voting Us Best Mexican Restaurant & Best Chimichanga! Mex can Dining Ch m cha g 2022 First Place Bakery Celebrating over 100 Years of Baking Excellence! VARIETY FOR YOUR TABLE 3578 Farnam St • 402-345-1708 Voted Omaha’s Best Reuben 11 Years In a Row! 2022 First Place Reuben Sandwich Omaha’s largest selection of craft beers.

S PEZIA - $$$ 3125 S. 72nd St. - 402.391.2950

Choose Spezia for lunch or dinner, where you’ll find a casual elegance that’s perfect for business guests, get-togethers, or any special occasion. Exceptional food, wine, and service, with a delectable menu: fresh seafood, certified Angus steaks, innovative pasta, risotto, gnocchi, cioppino, lamb, entrée salads, Mediterranean chicken, flatbreads, and fresh salmon daily. Enjoy a full bar, Italian and California wines, Anniversary/ Lovers’ Booth (call to reserve), private dining rooms, and woodfired grill. Open Monday-Sunday. Cocktail hour 4-6 p.m., when all cocktails, glasses of wine, and beers are half price. Evening reservations recommended. —


FERNANDO’S - $ 7555 Pacific St. - 402.339.8006. 380 N. 114th St. - 402.330.5707

Featuring Sonoran-style cooking made fresh daily. Catering and party rooms also available.

Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.11 p.m., Sunday 4-9 p.m.

— m

DINING GUIDE LEGEND $=$1-10 • $$=$10-20 • $$$=$20-30 • $$$$=$30+ DINING GUIDE Omaha 2022 First Place Sunday Brunch 2022 W nner WaitSta & Service Thanks for Voting Us #1 BREAKFAST 14 YEARS in a Row! Drive-Thru Open (Center St. Only) Open Daily 6:30am-2:00pm Serving Breakfast & Lunch All Day! 156th & Dodge • 408-1728 177th & Center • 934-9914 120th & Blondo • 991-8222 69th & Pacific • 933-2776 LEPEEPOMAHA.COM | @LEPEEPOMAHA 2022 First Place Breakfast



LA MESA - $$

158th St. and W. Maple Rd. - 402.557.6130

156th and Q streets - 402.763.2555

110th St. and W. Maple Rd. - 402.496.1101

Fort Crook Rd. and Hwy 370 - 402.733.8754

84th St. and Tara Plaza - 402.593.0983

Lake Manawa Exit - 712.256.2762

Enjoy awesome appetizers, excellent enchilada’s, fabulous fajitas, seafood specialties, mouthwatering margaritas and much more at La Mesa! Come see why La Mesa has been voted Omaha’s # 1 Mexican Restaurant 19 Years in a Row! Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. m


90th and Blondo streets - 402.391.8870

146th St. and W. Center Rd. - 402.330.4160

96th and L streets - 402.331.5656

Galvin and Avery roads - 402.292.2028

29th and Farnam steets - 402.346.1110

Romeo’s is your friendly, family Mexican food and pizza restaurant. We take real pride in serving our guests generous portions of the freshest, most flavorful dishes made with the finest ingredients available. Zesty seasonings and the freshest ingredients combine to ensure the ultimate in flavor. Our savory taco meat is prepared every morning at each location. Make sure to try our chimichangas; they’re the best in town. —


CRESCENT MOON ALE HOUSE - $ 3578 Farnam St. - 402.345.1708

Founded in 1996, we’ve grown into Beer Corner USA with the additions of The Huber Haus German Beer Hall, Max and Joe’s Belgian Beer Tavern, and Beertopia—Omaha’s Ultimate Beer Store. With more than 60 beers on tap and Omaha’s best Reuben sandwich, we are a Midtown beer-lover’s destination. Hours: Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Kitchen hours: Monday-Wednesday 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m.midnight. Closed Sunday. — m

GREEK ISLANDS - $ 3821 Center St. - 402.346.1528

Greek cuisine with specials every day at reasonable prices. We are well-known for our gyro sandwiches and salads. We cater and can accommodate a party for 65 guests. Carry-out and delivery available. Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-7 p.m. — m


West - 132nd and Center Downtown - 25th and Farnam One Pacific Place - Drive Thru Kiosk next to Trader Joes

Zen features over 50 popular drink options including Butter Beer, Honey Bee, Lavender Lady and Sunshine Daydream. Choose from hot or iced lattes, blenders, fruit smoothies and teas! Grab a flight or double cup to try the seasonal features! Delicious pastries and toasts made in house daily.


Family Owned Since 1983 CATERING / PARTY ROOM AVAILABLE HOMEMADE, FRESH FOOD, ALWAYS. 3821 Center St. / 402.346.1528 2022 First Place Greek Dining 3825 N. 30 TH ST., OMAHA,
MODERN COCKTAILS MIXED WITH AMERICA’S MUSIC @JOHNNYTSBARANDBLUES HAPPY HOUR: 3-6PM Tues-Fri, All Day Sunday $1 OFF All Tacos and Tortas - $6 Salsa Trio $3.5 Mexican Beers, $6 Margaritas $7 T&T (Tecate + Tequila Shot) 735 N 14th St. Omaha, NE 68102 402.933.4222 |



1620 S. 10th St. - 402-345-8313

Cascio’s is Omaha’s No. 1 steakhouse. We have been serving Omaha for 69 years. We feature steaks, chops, seafood, and Italian specialties. We have seven private party rooms, seating for up to 400 people, and plenty of parking. — m


2121 S. 73rd St. - 402-391-7440

Famous for the original Whiskey Steak. Truly a one-of-a-kind Midwestern experience. Excellent food, wine, service, and value. Rare...and very well done. Open Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Dinner nightly at 5 p.m. —

DINING GUIDE Omaha DINING GUIDE LEGEND $=$1-10 • $$=$10-20 • $$$=$20-30 • $$$$=$30+ F O O D F E AT U R E S C H E F P R O F I L E S R E S TA U R A N T R E V I E W S O M A H A M AGA Z I N E .C O M HUNGRY? STEAKS • CHOPS • SEAFOOD ITALIAN SPECIALTIES 7 private party rooms Seating up to 400 Lots of parking 1620 S. 10th Street 402-345-8313 2022 W nner Steakhouse


EMPIRE WILD Nov. 3. Merryman Performing Arts Center, Kearney. A genre-bending, crossover trio, Empire Wild has brought their signature mix of original music, inventive covers and twists on the classical canon to audiences across the country. —

STOMP Nov 3 & 4. Lied Center for Performing Arts, Lincoln. STOMP is explosive, inventive, provocative, witty, and utterly unique—an unforgettable experience for audiences of all ages. The international percussion sensation has garnered armfuls of awards and rave reviews and has appeared on numerous national television shows. The eight-member troupe uses everything but conventional percussion instruments – matchboxes, wooden poles, brooms, garbage cans, Zippo lighters, hubcaps – to fill the stage with magnificent rhythms. —

SHOW ME REPTILE & EXOTICS SHOW Nov. 5-6. Lancaster Event Center. A unique experience for both reptile lovers and the reptile-curious. It is a place of friendship and community for everyone. The show provides everything you need to properly care for your reptiles. From high quality reptile equipment like lighting, heating, feeders, substrate, cleaners and enclosures to friendly vendors who assist in reptile husbandry and adoptions. —

Holiday Market features two buildings full of vendors including crafts, baked goods, direct sales as well as on site concessions.

HOLIDAY SPLENDOR CRAFT SHOW Nov. 12. Buffalo County Fairgrounds, Kearney. Step into a winter wonderland of holiday shopping with over 250 booths of your favorite gifts, products and delicious food items all under one roof. This high quality show has been going strong since 2004 and shows no signs of stopping. —

SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD Dec 1-18. The Tada Theater, Lincoln. From composer Jason Robert Brown, this rousing score blends elements of pop, gospel,and jazz, featuring tight harmonies and daring vocals. This tour de force production transports the audience from the deck of a Spanish sailing ship bound for a new land, to the ledge of a New York penthouse. A powerful diverse cast and a supercharged, well-crafted score appeal to old and new generations alike. —

community and provides an opportunity for you to support local crafters. They have some of the best craft vendors in the state, some of the greatest food in the state, and some of the best shoppers in the state. It is a great fair that benefits a great church. —

DECK THE HALLS - LINCOLN’S SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Dec. 4. ed Center for Performing Arts. Tis the season! LSO’s annual celebration returns with lots of holly, jolly, and more, including Sleigh Ride and The Nutcracker with guest conductor Lucas Waldin. Tenor Drew Duncan will bring beloved holiday songs to life, and audiences of all ages can celebrate the joy of the season with dancers from Chase Dance and Dancing Beyond Limits The concert also showcases Bell-issimo handbell choir and Lincoln Suzuki Studios. —

ALTON BROWN LIVE: BEYOND THE EATS - THE HOLIDAY VARIANT Dec 8. Lied Center For Performing Arts. Alton Brown is hitting the road with a new culinary variety show! Expect more comedy, more music, more highly unusual cooking demos, and more potentially dangerous science-y stuff. Prepare for an evening unlike any other, and if Brown calls for volunteers…think twice. —



HOLIDAY MARKET Nov. 5. Jefferson County Fairgrounds, Fairbury. Kick off the holiday shopping season with SE Nebraska’s biggest vendor show! The 32nd Annual Frost Frolic

A MAGICAL CIRQUE CHRISMAS Dec 1. Viaero Center, Kearney. Experience the enchantment of Christmas as Magical Hostess Lucy Darling takes you through an evening of dazzling performers and breathtaking cirque artists, accompanied by your favorite holiday music performed live. Get into the spirit of the season with this merry treat that’s perfect for the entire family. —

34TH ANNUAL ARTS AND CRAFT FAIR Dec 3. First Church, North Platte. The Craft Fair at First Church is an awesome event that builds

THE FLYOVERS- A MODERN A CAPPELLA QUINTET Dec 9 The Lark, Hastings. The Flyovers are a modern a cappella quintet from Lincoln, Nebraska. Consisting of two tenors, Ether Saure and Lucas Kellison, a soaring soprano, Anna Claridge, a rumbling bass, Bill Catlett, and an impossible beatboxer, D-Wayne. The group has grown regionally in popularity from their unusually humble beginnings. —


WHITE CHRISTMAS. Dec 11. Brownville Concert Hall, Brownville. Brownville favorites KT Sullivan, Jeff Harnar, Todd Murray & Stacy Sullivan unite for a fun Christmas show featuring the music of White Christmas and many other beloved movie and Broadway holiday tunes. —

AN INTIMATE CHRISTMAS WITH LORIE LINE. Dec. 14. Rococo Theatre, Lincon. Lorie Line is once again making an appearance as a solo piano artist. Expect a very intimate evening with Lorie as she shares her beautiful music, funny stories and heartwarming stories of faith. —

MIRACLE OF 34TH STREET: THE MUSICAL DEC 20. Merryman Performing Arts Center, Kearney. A holiday classic, “Miracle on 34th Street The Musical” is sure to fill you with happiness and cheer for the holiday season. Based on the classic 1947 film, it tells the tale of a skeptical little girl who doubts the existence of Santa Claus. This is a tale that we want to believe in, that creates a world we seem to desperately desire, where love and generosity of spirit are their own rewards.


DR. SEUSS’ HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! THE MUSICAL Dec. 22-24. Lied Center For Performing Arts. A record-setting Broadway holiday sensation which features the hit songs “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch” and “Welcome Christmas” from the original animated special. Max the Dog narrates as the mean and scheming Grinch, whose heart is “two sizes too small,” decides to steal Christmas away from the Holiday loving Whos. Magnificent sets and cos tumes inspired by Dr. Seuss’ original illustrations help transport audiences to the whimsical world of Whoville and helps remind us of the true meaning of the holiday season. —


WINNE THE POOH: THE NEW MUSICAL Nov. 5. Des Moines Civic Center, Des Moines. Disney’s iconic Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin and their best friends Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Rabbit, and Owl (oh… and don’t forget Tigger too!) have come to life in a beautifully crafted musical stage adaptation. Featuring the Sherman Brothers’ classic Grammy Awardwinning music with further songs by A.A. Milne, this beautiful fresh stage adaptation is told with stunning life-sized puppetry through

the eyes of the characters we all know and love, in a new story from the Hundred Acre Wood. —


Nov 5. Twisted Vine Brewery, Des Moines. Join us at Twisted Vine Brewery on Saturday, November 5th, 2022, at 11 AM for a 5k-ish, fun run event that starts and ends at this BRANDNEW location in the East Village, Des Moines. Run, walk, jog - whatever goes! Complete the course and celebrate with us and a FREE, local craft brew at the finish line.


Nov 11. Des Moines Civic Center. Iliza Shlesinger is an award-winning comedian, actor, writer, producer and author, selling out theaters around the globe with a devoted fan base. Iliza has five Netflix stand-up specials, has starred in multiple movies, authored two books, hosts her own podcast “Ask Iliza Anything”. —


LED ZEPPELIN IV Nov 12. Hoyt Sherman Place, Des Moines. Remember putting on an album and listening from start to finish? Relive that moment with a live

// 84 // NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022 leash
at Mt. Crescent Ski Area DEC. 14 NOV. 05 EXPLORE CALENDAR
the slopes!

concert experience unlike any other as The Black Jacket Symphony recreates the iconic album Led Zeppelin IV live in its entirety—note for note, sound for sound— plus a full set of Led Zeppelin’s greatest hits. —

ACKERMAN WINERY | FIRESIDE WINERY PRODUCTION TOUR Nov 12. Amana Colonies. Join us for a guided tour of our production facility. Get insider tastings & pairings while learning about the winemaking process. After the tour, feel free to walk the short distance to our tasting room for more wine & appetizers. —

EAGLES “HOTEL CALIFORNIA 2022 TOUR” Nov 17 Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines. Due to overwhelming demand, the EAGLES Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit, with Vince Gill – extends the “Hotel California” 2022 Tour in the U.S. with November show. Each concert features a live ‘Hotel California,’ performance, accompanied by an orchestra and choir.  After a short intermission the band will perform a full set of their greatest hits. —

DES MOINES WHISKEY FEST Nov 18-19. The River Center, Des Moines. Spend your day tasting new whiskeys, listening to endless music, and eating your way around the festival. So many fun filled options! Dont forget about the cigar truck or the outdoor game patios. Whiskey Fest has expanded and will take over both sides of The River Center. Saturday is full of food, music, entertainment and more! Enjoy all day activities like axe throwing, cigar trucks, contests, speakers, games, and of course WHISKEY! Over 200 types of whiskey for tasting! —

PRELUDE TO CHRISTMAS, Dec 2-4 Amana Colonies. Enjoy candlelit streets, the beautiful Tannenbaum Forest, great shopping for unique gifts, and our delicious food all in a place like no other.  Prelude to Christmas is a special time in the Amana Colonies with the main village of Amana decorated for the Christmas Holiday. Join us for this wonderful celebration and start a Christmas tradition of your own. —

OLD WORLD CHRISTMAS MARKET 2022 Dec 3. National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, Cedar Rapids. The Old World Christmas Market is inspired by traditional European markets, but with our own Midwest magic. Experience a delightful market with local handcrafted items, delicious treats, entertainment and activities for people of all ages. This enchanted celebration of culture, community, and holiday cheer is free for the entire weekend, including admission to NCSML galleries. —


CHRISTMAS WITH JIM MCDONOUGH AND HIS ORCHESTRA: 20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR. Dec 3. Hoyt Sherman Place, Des Moines. Celebrate the holiday season in style by attending “Christmas with Jim McDonough and His Orchestra: The 20th Anniversary Tour!” This dazzling stage production features International Steinway Artist, Jim McDonough, alongside his 14-piece professional orchestra, performing your favorite Christmas music and other all-time favorites. The awe-inspiring event is a grand combination of beautiful music, spectacular visual effects, and the true spirit of the season. —

SINTERKLAAS DAY Dec 3 Downtown Orange City. The Sinterklaas Day Celebration draws children and their families to downtown Orange City to see the arrival of the Dutch “Santa” on his white horse, and to participate in Dutch games and a puppet show. —

PENTATONIX: A CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR Dec 8 Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines. As one of the most innovative, inventive, and inimitable vocal groups of all time, Pentatonix reimagine, reinvigorate, and redefine a cap pella. Since emerging in 2011, the three-time

GRAMMY® Award-winning and Daytime EMMY® Award-nominated vocal quintet—Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Kirstin Maldonado, Kevin Olusola, and Matt Sallee—have reached unprecedented heights, toppling charts, selling 10 million albums worldwide, generating bil lions of streams, and performing everywhere from The White House and Macy’s Thanks giving Day Parade to The Hollywood Bowl. —

11TH ANNUAL SINGLE MOMS CHRISTMAS DINNER Dec 10. Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines. Single mothers are invited to attend this special Christmas event being held in their honor. With the help of our great com munity, Single Parent Provision invites single mothers to enjoy this memorable evening including a catered dinner, heartfelt program, laughter, and love all in the great company of other single moms. —

BLUEY’S BIG PLAY Dec 27-28 Des Moines Civic Center. Bluey’s Big Play is a brand-new theatrical adaptation of the Emmy® awardwinning children’s television series, with an original story by Bluey creator Joe Brumm, and new music by Bluey composer, Joff Bush. Join the Heelers in their first live theatre show made just for you, featuring brilliantly created

NOV. 12 hello@omahaeventgroup com 402 819 8792 omahaeventgroup com Omaha Design Center The Downtown Club | Empire Room | Omaha Palazzo Anderson O Brien Fine Art Gallery Five venues, five unique celebration experiences Hosting events for 100 1,000 guests, Omaha Event Group boasts 15 years of experience with over 300 events each year, including Omaha Fashion Week Schedule a consultation with our team of experts today
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puppets, this is Bluey as you’ve never seen it before, brought to real life. Bluey’s Big Play is presented by BBC Studios and Andrew Kay in association with Windmill Theatre Co. —


2022 SOUP AND CHILI FEST Nov 5. Downtown Hutchinson. The Downtown Kiwanis Club’s 2022 Chili and Soup Festival is a great day to be in beautiful Downtown Hutchinson and sample fantastic chili and soup. It’s a day the whole family can enjoy and you get to vote for the Best Soup and the Best Chili! Starts at 11:30 a.m. and goes until the chili and soup are gone!  —

WICKED WINE WALK Nov 12. Power & Light District, Kansas City. Grab your BOOS Crew for Wicked Wine Walk! Sip, taste and explore downtown Kansas City at the Wicked Wine Walk on Saturday, November 12th, in the Power & Light District. Enjoy live music on 14th Street, wine tastings and small plates at each of the participating venues. —

27TH ANNUAL TURKEY SHOOT Nov 20. Commencing at Buck Run Community Center. Fort Scott, Kansas. Shoot free-throws and win a turkey to enjoy for your Thanksgiving dinner. Kids- grab a parent, grandparent, or legal guardian for this chance. Each child and adult will shoot 25 free-throws each. The adult/child team scoring the highest in each age group wins a turkey! —

LUMINARY WALK - THE ARBORETUM BY CANDLELIGHT Nov 25 & 26, Dec 2 & 3, 8-10, 15-17. Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens in Overland Park. Take a stroll along the lit pathways to experience the magical Gnome and Fairy Villages, serene winter woods by candlelight, and the

colorful Children’s Garden. Enjoy musical performances in four different locations and visit with Santa in his Woodland Depot. The gardens are bright with color -  while the quiet woods are lit with candles lining the walkways. Trees, buildings, and bridges are all part of the show, with thousands of lights aglow. —

SHAWNEE CHRISTKINDLMARKT Dec 3. City Hall in Shawnee. Explore three different Christmas cultures in one event at Shawnee’s Christkindlmarkt. Hosted by the Shawnee Sister Cities Committee, the holiday-themed event features an appearance by Santa, carolers, holiday treats, and crafts for entertaining the children. —

A VERY ELECTRIC CHRISTMAS Dec 14. Lied Center of Kansas, Lawrence. Follow the story of a young bird named Max and his family as they begin their journey South for the winter. When Max gets blown off course and ends up at the North Pole…his adventure begins! Dancing toy soldiers, caroling worms and performing poinsettias light up the stage in Lightwire Theater’s A Very Electric Christmas. —

2022 HYDE PARK LUMINARIA Dec 17. Hyde Park Neighborhood, Hutchinson. Stroll, drive, or ride through Hutchinson Hyde Park’s beautiful neighborhood for the 35th annual Christmas Luninaria.  Meet Santa at the corner of 20th and Washington, and enjoy musical entertainment, horse-drawn wagon rides and cider and cookies at Hyde Park. —


KEVIN HART Nov 3. T-mobile Center, Kansas City. Kevin Hart is bringing his first major tour in over four years to Kansas City. —

JUDAS PRIEST: 50 YEARS OF METAL Nov 13. Family Arena, Saint Charles. One of heavy metal’s all-time greats, Judas Priest, will get the opportunity to celebrate their 50th anniversary again this year with the launch of a new North American fall tour. The 50 Heavy Metal Years Tour will also feature Queensryche as openers and is being fueled by the highest-charting album of Priest’s career, ‘Firepower,’ which peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200. —

THE NATIONAL COLLEGIATE BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2022 Nov 20. Kansas City. Induction Celebration will take place at The College Basketball Experi ence in Kansas City, MO. A red carpet arrival and VIP reception will begin at 6:00 p.m., fol lowed by the Induction Celebration at 7:30 p.m. —

GLOWILD Nov 1-Dec 11. Kansas City Zoo, Kansas City, MO. The Kansas City Zoo is bringing a completely unique experi ence to the Greater Kansas City area this Fall – GloWild, an immersive and breathtaking nighttime event. GloWild is a lantern festival like no other, fea turing massive handmade steel and silk works of art depicting animals, local landmarks, botanicals, and Asian cultural creations. GloWild will be the largest event of its kind in the Midwest! —

SANTA’S NORTH POLE DASH Dec 3. Frontier Park, Saint Charles. The Greater St. Charles Regional Chamber of Commerce announces they will be holding their 12th annual Santa’s North Pole Dash  on Saturday, December 3rd, 2022, in Historic St. Charles. Santa’s North Pole Dash is a 5K run and 1-mile walk for all ages. —

JURASSIC WORLD LIVE TOUR Dec 9-10. T-Mobile Center, Kansas City. Juras sic World Live Tour, an exhilarating and unpredictable live, family entertainment experience that brings the wonder and thrills of Jurassic World to generations of fans returns to T-Mobile Center in Kansas City from Dec. 9 – 11 for seven performances. —


LIGHTING Nov 12. Weston, MO. Annual Tree Lighting and festivities to kick of the holiday season! —

EVENT TIMES AND DETAILS MAY CHANGE. Visit for complete listings. Check with venue or event organizer to confirm.

Gems • Minerals • Fossils • Jewelry Great things for the whole family, and Mom too! Conveniently located just off the interstate 8487 Frederick St. | | 402-397-9606 EXPLORE CALENDAR
NOV. 14
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Ihave a friend–hard to believe, I know–but I have a friend who studied evolutionary bio-physiology. I should emphasize that I do not know if

he got good grades or not. Whatever his class rank, he and I were talking one night, which is something I do with friends from time to time, and the conversation turned away from the Greek tragedy currently enveloping our favorite college football team toward the subject of decrepitude.

The gist of our chat was that he maintained, in the view of evolutionary biophysiologists, the human body was designed to last about 35 years. “The spine is poorly designed,” my friend opined, “And the joints just don’t stand up well to repetitive weight-bearing motion or the constant impact injury inflicted by ambulation under stress.” In other words, gravity rules. He had a formula that showed just how long our furry hunter-gathering ancestors had before they started thinking about inventing orthopedic surgery, but I won’t bore you with the math. Suffice to say, Pickleball is a consequence of tennis.

I was reflecting on this truth nugget recently after it became clear that my shoulder had decided to follow Roger Federer into retirement. Rather than announcing this decision at a press conference, the old ball-and-socket decided instead to communicate its intention via spasms of intense, unbearable, agonizing, tortuous, disabling, screaming, chronic pain.

(Note: I am a male human. Male humans have a much different modality for measuring pain than female humans. To a male such as I, my shoulder pain is a 15 on a 10-point scale. My wife would classify the same inflammatory agony as a 2, not even worth a Tylenol–just to be clear.)

I must also note that I have reached an advanced age that precludes me playing any real sport. Thus, I was limited to long, ruined walks over an intensely mowed and over-sprinkled, ersatz bucolic landscape punctuated by little flags… golf. Now, even that silly little pursuit is beyond me. I have given my clubs to a younger man, filed down my spikes and turned them into slippers, and donated my autographed Lee Elder poster to a charity.

It must be said, I was never a very good golfer, though I did win a tournament once. (I have since forgotten where or how that happened.). When I started playing as a young man, I was very good at cursing. Eventually I realized that bad language only upset the beer cart attendant and thus reformed, my enjoyment of that misspent time on various municipal fairways increased. Anyone who takes golf seriously who does not have a camera crew following them is deluded.

Here then, though I know it is not “golf season,” I leave you with my legacy, the “Otis Twelve Rules for Golf” To Wit:

1. The “It Oughta’ Be About Here” Rule: If you hit your drive into the woods or the weeds, or under a nearby patio deck, and you cannot locate the ball after looking for a minute or so, drop a new ball and play on. You are not on the course to look for lost things.

2. The “This Shot Won’t Teach me Anything” Rule: If your ball comes to rest against a tree trunk, snuggles up to a boulder, or results in you not being able to see the flag because of an intervening porta-potty, remember that you are not Sergio Garcia. Attempting the shot would be dangerous and possibly embarrassing. Kick the ball out away from the impediment and play on.

3. The “Buck Fifty” Rule: If you, like me play rounds with mostly “jar” balls, remember the approximate cost of those balls is $1.50. If you hit your jar ball into the pond, creek, lake, or ocean you have just incurred a financial cost of a buck fifty. That is sufficient penalty. Drop a new ball and play on.

Play on. Enjoy. And raise a glass to me as you follow these simple rules. But don’t raise the glass too high. You’ll blow out your shoulder.

Otis Twelve hosts the radio program Morning Classics with Otis Twelve on 90.7 KVNO, weekday mornings from 6-10 a.m. Visit for more information.

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