Holiday Lights Festival ends 2016 with a bang

Posted at 10:22 PM, Dec 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-31 23:25:28-05
The sky over Omaha illuminated Saturday for the annual fireworks spectacular.
Thousands packed the Gene Leahy Mall a few hours before 2017.
Mild temperatures for an event dotted with smiles under a canopy of firework blasts.
 “It was absolutely amazing,” a spectator said on live TV. “That finale is something you can't even begin to talk about.”
Lots of excitement Saturday, with more than 30,000 watching as fireworks put several exclamations across downtown Omaha’s skyline. 
“It's so fun to be down here with all the memories you make” said High School Senior Sophie Smith. “It's New Years Eve and it’s just a fun night.”
It's Smith's first time spending New Year's Eve at the Gene Leahy Mall, enjoying the night with someone special. 
"The memories,” said Smith’s friend Josh Rotert. “Every moment out here is just a memory.”
It's Rotert's first holiday lights show as well.
"In general, everything is perfect,” Rotert said moments before the fireworks display.
Excitement for the New Year stretched across the mall. 
"A super fun, family oriented kind of celebration for kids of all ages, babies to adults, a nice way to get away from the whole party side of New Year's,” said Danielle Schneider, Omaha. 
"It's a good way to end the New Year, lots of people, a good environment,” said Max Veller, Omaha.
Veller says he's proud of a city that has such a warm and bright event on New Year’s Eve.
“The city of Omaha really recognizes it,” Veller said. “It's not just put on by just anybody. They really like to say it's representative of Omaha when everyone gathers all together to end the New Year.”