Omaha’s 19th annual Holiday Lights Festival is set to begin next weekend and will be the final one before major renovations begin at the Gene Leahy Mall.
Tens of thousands of lights will once again twinkle throughout downtown from Thanksgiving night through the New Year.
The lights are currently going up on the Gene Leahy Mall but the show is heading for hiatus and the plug will be pulled in 2019 and the following year as the entire area gets remade.
Beginning in the spring, the Gene Leahy Mall will be turned into a park. The pond will be filled in with dirt. It's the first phase of Omaha's Return To The River plan, a private/public partnership without using tax dollars.
“There aren't many events that happen in the Gene Leahy Mall. That's one of the reasons we think the plan will be so beneficial because of the steep slopes and water feature that takes up one-third of the space, Mayor Jean Stothert says. "We have a lot of events that happen downtown but they don't happen at the Gene Leahy Mall."
The change will happen with a push from the muscle of a $300 million plan for a Return To The River.