Omaha Lithuanian Women’s Club President Aldona Tanner kindly shared the news of the club in 2015.
The club was founded in 1974 to promote and sustain the Lithuanian language, culture, and
traditions in the Omaha community. Profits from our fundraising activities support Lithuanian
and local charities. Some of our activities have been reported in Bridges, Lithuanian American
News Journal. The following describe our events in 2015.
CultureFest and International Fair
2015 was our first year participating in both events. CultureFest was held on Sunday, February
22nd. The event was sponsored by the Service Learning Academy of the University of Nebraska
at Omaha. The participants included ethnic, student, and humanitarian groups. Some had exhibits and others performed.
We were excited to showcase our Lithuanian culture. Our display included amber, Easter eggs,
hand-made straw ornaments, and art work. We had brief write-ups on Lithuanian Easter egg decorating (“margučiai”) and the Lithuanian Christmas Eve Dinner (Kūčios) Table. In order to commemorate the January 13th Defenders of Freedom Day, we distributed Forget-me-not seed packets with a brief history of the events from that day in 1991 on the back of the packet.
The International Fair was held at Metropolitan Community College on April 7th. The fair was
opened with the naturalization ceremony; thirty people from 14 countries became U.S. citizens.
My parents became citizens in 1957 and now a new wave of immigrants is getting to learn and
experience what a wonderful country this is to live in.
We sold our products including our cookbook, mugs, bumper stickers, and tote bags. We also
distributed the Forget-me-not seed packets to commemorate the January 13th Defenders of
CultureFest with (l. to r.) Irena Matz, Kristina Jonyka, and Aldona Tanner.
CultureFest (l. to r.) Sue Mehaffey and Pat Fitzgerald with the Omaha Sister Cities
Association display. Sue and Pat are also members of the Omaha Lithuanian Women’s Club.
Photos by Algis Praits.
The Invisible Front
On July 26th, our club sponsored a free showing of The Invisible Front at the University of
Nebraska at Omaha. We had a packed room watching the Lithuanian underground resistance
against Soviet oppression.
E Pluribus Omaha!
On Saturday, September 12th, we participated in a cultural conference sponsored by the Douglas County Historical Society. One of our members, Kristina Jonyka, was a speaker at two sessions that covered the Lithuanian immigrants in Omaha. Her presentation included timelines for arrivals, employment, St. Anthony’s parish and school, social activities, choir and dance groups, and key events. We also had a Lithuanian cultural display table.
Saulė Folk Music Ensemble
This year, the Omaha Sister Cities Association celebrated our 50 year anniversary since
establishing our first sister city with Shizuoka, Japan. The sister cities that have been established since then are Braunschweig (Germany), Šiauliai (Lithuania), Naas (Ireland), Xalapa (Mexico), and Yantai (China).
As part of this celebration, a subgroup of the Sister Cities, Omaha Friends of Šiauliai, invited
guests from Lithuania to help us celebrate. In collaboration with the University of Nebraska
Omaha, the Saulė folk music ensemble from Šiauliai University traveled to Omaha and held
several performances. They were the special performers at the International Friendship Banquet celebrating the 50th anniversary. The Omaha Lithuanian Women’s Club contributed towards Saulė’s lodging expenses during their stay. On Sunday, September 20th, we had a free performance by Saulė at St. Peter & Paul gym and the Lithuanian Women’s Club prepared a complimentary luncheon.
We enjoyed a great performance with the audience swaying with the singing, and clapping to themusic and dancing. Many in attendance were not Lithuanian yet they seemed to really enjoy the performance and the food. Saulė gave the club 3 loaves of wheat bread from Lithuania to thank us and the mayor of Šiauliai, Arturas Visockas, gave the club a box of chocolates from
Gediminas Murauskas, chair of Omaha Friends of Šiauliai committee,
Mayor Arturas Visockas of Šiauliai, with Saulė members.
Aldona Tanner with Saulė dancers and the bread from Lithuania.
Photos by Algis Praits.
We had a busy year. Our remaining activities for 2015 will include participation in the annual
Ethnic Holiday Festival at Durham Museum on December 4th.
Other Omaha, Nebraska 2015 Events
Egle, Queen of the Grass Snakes
As part of the Sister Cities 50th Anniversary celebration, Omaha Friends of Šiauliai sponsored the ‘Saulės Takas’ project, originally inspired by the opening of the Japanese Garden at the
Lauritzen Gardens more than 10 years ago.
The Mayor of Omaha and other dignitaries were at the August 28th unveiling of the Lithuanian
folk wood sculpture by Aurimas Šimkus at Lauritzen Gardens. The Honorable Rolandas
Kriščiunas, Lithuania’s ambassador to the U.S. was in attendance and the performance was by
Kristina Kupryte, “kankles” musician. The sculpture is of Egle, Queen of the Grass Snakes and is the first Lithuanian folk wood sculpture project at any botanical garden, in North America.
Egle, Queen of the Grass Snakes.
Ambassador Rolandas Kriščiunas with Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert.
We also had a Lithuanian mural painted on the side of The Lithuanian Bakery. Richard Harrison(A Midsummer’s Mural) is the artist that obtained grants to fund this project. He along with other artists held meetings with the Lithuanian community, obtained input from the community, designed, and painted the mural. The Honorable Rolandas Kriščiunas, along with Saulė Folk Ensemble, and the mayor of Šiauliai, Arturas Visockas, visited the mural during their stay here.
Aldona Tanner, President
Omaha Lithuanian Women’s Club
1866 N 176th Plaza
Omaha, NE 68118-6031