OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — 'Tis the Season for bright lights, festive celebrations and giving back. The Holiday Lights Festival is set to return on Nov. 22, with city leaders kicking the festivities off at the Greater Omaha Chamber.
White lights, garland and festive decor will light the way from 10th to 13th Streets and Harney to Jackson Streets.
"People more than ever right now need their spirits lifted, get back in the holiday spirit. We're really, really happy that we were able to still decorate downtown and provide a real festive area for people to come in and enjoy," Mayor Jean Stothert said.
Another major part of the holidays is the campaign, "Shine the Light on Hunger," led by Conagra Brands Foundation. People can provide meals for people in need by dropping off nonperishable food at barrels in locations such as Baker's supermarkets.
"We distributed, last fiscal year, somewhere in the vicinity of 37 million meals," Food Bank for the Heartland President & CEO Brian Barks said. "That is what we estimated we would be distributing in the year 2028 and we did it in the blink of an eye and we're still seeing that heavy lift."
Barks paints a picture of a dire need for help in the community.
"We are spending at a rate of about $780,000 a month on food, that compares about $80,000 at pre-pandemic levels. So again, that gives a little bit of an idea on what kind of need we're still facing," Barks said.
Barks is a firm believer that light reflected from decor and from people will maintain holiday hope.
"This is a long haul, we're gonna be at this for years to come, which is why we're going to need the community's support for a long period of time," Barks said.