Test fireworks - Omaha.com
Published Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 3:14 pm
Test fireworks

For those about to rock, we salute you tonight with a dose of the '80s, and we're talking the decade, not the temperature.

Friday morning, however, Omaha's Memorial Park looked like it had the makings of an outdoor concert scene from the '60s, a bit like Woodstock.

Fans of the Bank of the West Celebrates America concert and fireworks show began selecting their spots for the annual free festivities 13 hours in advance. At 5 a.m., Omaha police allowed rockers young and old into the popular midtown park along the north side of Dodge Street to stake out and then leave behind certain belongings that unofficially mark their prime locations as reserved.

Unattended camp chairs and blankets, not tarps and stakes, were permitted to hold the spots.

Some left immediately after depositing comforters and lawn chairs to eat breakfast, prepare for work or catch some sleep. Others stuck around awhile, surveying the sea of blankets materializing in the dim light as late-comers dropped off their spreads. A few planned to spend the day on location.

Two of the first in line Friday morning were Trish Geiver of Council Bluffs and her daughter, Brigit, 10.

“I've been doing this (reserving a spot) for at least 15 years,'' Geiver said. “People are used to me getting here early and getting them a good spot.''

She and her daughter, who brought books, a Frisbee and a beach ball to help occupy her time, said they would remain at the park throughout the day.

“And I've got snacks in the car,'' said Geiver. “I can just sit here all day and watch the people.''

Candy Duley of Omaha also said she planned to spend her day, 14 hours until the show begins, at her three blankets awaiting the concert.

“I've been doing this for lots of years,'' she said. “We'll stay here all day. This is the beginning of my vacation.''

Duley, who said she arrived at the park a little before 4 a.m., had her meals planned for the day, “breakfast, lunch and dinner.''

“We've got this down to a science,'' Duley said.

“It's amazing the people you meet, and I'm a people person,'' she said. “For the most part, people want to have a good time, with no drama.''

By 5 a.m., scores of rock fans began arriving on foot, leaving their parked cars behind on Dundee neighborhood streets north of Underwood Avenue and to the east of the park, clogging the roadways.

Tonight, thousands are expected to turn out. And the forecast looks good for an open-air show: mostly clear skies and seasonal temperatures in the 70s by 10 p.m., with only a slight chance of precipitation.

The concert, which begins at 6 p.m., features 1980s rock singer Pat Benatar and husband-guitarist-composer-producer Neil Giraldo and '80s Canadian rock band Loverboy. The Morgan Leigh Band, which won a battle of the bands contest to appear at the concert, opens the show.

The fireworks display is set to blast off at 10 p.m.

Ellen Ehlers of Omaha said she was also a long-time veteran at reserving a location at Memorial Park. Ehlers, however, was leaving her belongings behind “to go home and make some food.''

“Last year was great with Huey Lewis,'' she said, “but we come for the social event.''

Romando Morris arrived before 5 a.m. as a favor. He said his boss at Midwest Communications paid him to save a location.

“He asked me to come out here and get him a spot,'' said Morris. “And I may come back.''

A mild, breezy summer evening will greet the tens of thousands of people attending tonight's festivities.

Temperatures will already be dropping from the day's mid-80s high when the concert begins, said Dave Eastlack, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

A gusty northwest wind will bring in cool, dry air, but could blow some of the sound away from the crowd.

By 7 p.m., Eastlack said temperatures are likely to be in the low 80s and winds could be blowing at 15 mph to 25 mph.

By the 10 p.m. fireworks show, winds will have died down considerably, he said. Temperatures are likely to be in the low 70s and winds are likely to be around 10 mph, he said.

Last year, about 70,000 people turned out for the concert and fireworks show.

Weather for the rest of the weekend will be "awesome," thanks to the cooler, dry air blowing in, Eastlack said. Highs in the upper 70s are forecast into early next week.

No significant rain is in the forecast. There's a slim chance for snowers in the Omaha metro Saturday afternoon, but if any rain falls, it's likely to be along the Missouri River valley into Iowa, Eastlack said. The next chance for rain - a slight one - is midweek, heading into the July 4th holiday.

Contact the writer: Jay Withrow

jay.withrow@owh.com    |   402-444-1259    |  

Jay covers crime, weather, breaking news and other stories for Omaha.com.

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