By Kimberly Foley. CREATED Nov 12, 2013
Omaha, NE - Downtown is little more than two weeks away from transforming into a winter wonderland.
The holiday lights festival, sounds of the season concerts and the ConAgra ice rink will open.
At the center of it all is Gene Leahy Mall, which has been under construction for months.
Thanksgiving marks one year since Omaha Tap House opened its doors at 14th and Farnam Streets.
The burger and brew restaurant purposely opened on Turkey Day.
"Gosh, there were probably 4-5,000 people milling around right outside our door," said bartender Sean Stephenson.
Stephenson said the goal was to open the night the lights were turned on.
"It was really nice to at least have our presence be known to people," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if folks maybe didn't come in that night, but thought, 'Oh we'll come back and try that again later.'"
This year, they will once again open on Thanksgiving hoping to cash in on a big night in the heart of downtown.
"Oh, it's incredible," said Stephenson. "What an opportunity for us."
This year, it's not Tap House racing to meet a deadline at 14th and Farnam; it's the city.
Officials are confident Gene Leahy Mall will be ready for the winter debut.
For months, crews have been repairing and renovating, and now, they're down to the wire.
"Like with any big construction project, they found things they didn't anticipate," said Mayor Jean Stothert. "They found a lot more repairs in some areas that they had to do. It has taken a little bit longer, but our goal all along was to have it done by Thanksgiving."
Marc Nichols with Downtown Omaha Inc., which partners with the city, is certain that even if the deadline is not met, the light festival will not be affected.
"Most of the people are up on the streets and around the area," he said. "We don't get that many people down in the mall to see the lights."
As far as the next steps go, Stothert said water will start filling the lagoon by the end of the week.
The holiday lights festival will be at 6 P.M. on Thanksgiving.