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Native Omaha Days Festival gets underway in spite of the heat

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 4:37 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Temperatures close to 100 degrees welcomed thousands of people back to town for Native Omaha Days Festival.

Some of the vendors in town for the event tell 6 News that the heat is slowing foot traffic during the day, but they do see it pick up when the day cools off a bit.

Organizers say people are still coming out to meet up with family and old friends in spite of the heat.

“We know it’s a hot week — we’re looking at 100 degrees. People are still coming down in those evening hours, and even during the day, people are stopping through for lunch,” said Willie Barney of the Empowerment Network. “We’re seeing some crowds starting to build up, but especially in that evening, later afternoon/evening crowd starting to build up, we’re seeing good business people — buying food and doing some shopping at the vendors.”

Wednesday night, one of the highlights of the celebration, Gospel Fest, gets underway at Morning Star Baptist Church, located at 2019 Burdette St. Doors open at 6 p.m.; music starts at 7 p.m. Seating will be limited, and masks will be required.

Meanwhile, work was underway to prepare North 24th Street for the celebration as organizers work to keep the celebration clean, safe, and beautiful. Traffic control is in place, and the area is getting dressed up for guests.

“A lot of the community organizations, the neighborhoods, the churches, businesses, nonprofits all working together getting ready to welcome home, and also welcome other Native Omahans down to 24th and Lake streets this week,” Barney said.

The Revive Center will use the celebration as a springboard to reopen.

“We opened up the Revive Center in 2019 — actually, the week of Native Omaha Days — and because of COVID, we had to shut down,” said the center’s Yolanda Barney.

They’re once again preparing food and will also host events. The Revive Center will be open every day for lunch, but evening meals will be served during Native Omaha Days. The center will also use a number of different chefs to offer a variety of food.

“It feels great to be able to open up again,” Yolanda Barney said. “There’s a lot of businesses up and down 24th Street that are still open.”

Don McPherson’s Styles of Evolution has been in business for years on North 24th Street. Now, he has some company on the block: A new business has opened, and a music and arts center will soon open its doors as well.

“Been here 16 years, and for about the last four years, we’ve been kind of, like, on that island,” McPherson said. “And so now that we’ve got people moving in, into the community, and there’s going to be traffic flow, there’s a lot of good things coming to North 24th Street.”

Organizers will have North 24th Street ready for the vendors and the businesses to hopefully have a successful celebration.

“So, get to kill two birds with one stone,” said Carl West of the Snack Shack. “I get to see family because all of my family is from Omaha Nebraska and attend Omaha days at the same time.”

More event information is available on the Native Omaha Days website.

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