Omaha's String of Pearls took a hit from the string of spring storms. The lights that add a glimmer to the city’s welcome mat along Abbott Drive took a beating this season.
If you drive near the airport, you can't help but notice the mess.
For many visitors, the lights offer a first impression of the city and right now The Pearls lack luster. They’re bruised, battered and broken.
Motorist Connie Ronfeldt said, “They need to fix ‘em. They put a lot of money into here so it should be kept up.
“It is very embarrassing here and there's no reason to put all that money into it and just to let it go bad.”
Mother Nature is to blame for this. She did it once before and now she’s done it again.
Omaha City Engineer Todd Pfitzer said, “You know, we lost a whole lot of these String of Pearls in the hailstorm of 2011 as well. We're just finding those large plastic globes don’t withstand hail in this region very well. We replaced 230 in that storm and, I think, 117 with this last storm - something like that.”
City officials are working to find replacements for the broken bulbs but it is costly and it’s not something that’s in the budget.
Pfitzer said, “We have three different manufacturers we're meeting with in the near future to evaluate some more hail-resistant options - to see what they cost, to see what they look like and perhaps test them out.”
It could take a couple of months to evaluate and order replacement bulbs so until then Omaha's String of Pearls will just have to be broken.
Each bulb in The String costs $400 to replace. In 2011, when the bulbs were destroyed by a hailstorm, a local foundation helped with the replacement cost.