Check out a newly created green space in downtown on Saturday when the Omaha Children's Museum holds a grand opening for its Grass Patch.
For now, the grassy space holds two trees and playground equipment.
It replaces a commercial lot that held a dilapidated shop building that hadn't been used in recent years and was an eyesore sitting in the middle of the museum's parking areas.
“We waited 20 years for that building to come down,” said Lindy Hoyer, executive director of the Omaha Children's Museum, 500 S. 20th St.
The building was torn down in March, and sod was laid in May. The playground equipment was donated by Backyard Playworld, and a low fence separating the Grass Patch from busy St. Mary's Avenue was added by Acreage Fence. There are benches for parents, grandparents or baby sitters who bring children to the play area.
Over the summer, museum officials have watched to see how the area — which is open to the public — is being used.
“The neighborhood kids found it,” Hoyer said, and they used it for impromptu soccer or baseball games. “But they scattered whenever we came out of the building.”
So museum workers created signs — “Please play on the grass” is one — inviting neighborhood kids to play games in the grass or use the play equipment.
For the grand opening, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, there will be games, including giant Twister; art activities; and hot dogs, as long as supplies last.
“This is for everyone, not just museum members,” Hoyer said.