JOTG (Jazz on the Green) is one of those Omaha traditions that will forever be near and dear to our hearts. In the heat of the summer beginning at 5 pm every Thursday you can grab a picnic blanket, a bottle of wine, some snacks and a couple friends and sit outdoors enjoying jazz music. Since moving from it's original Joslyn museum locale to Midtown Crossing, JOTG has heavily increased in attendance. To be among your neighbors and other Omaha-dwellers while drinking in public is wonderful. If you've never experienced JOTG, here are a few tips from some seasoned pros.
Planning for JOTG: To begin with, this is essentially a picnic, so be sure to bring things like plates, napkins, cutlery, and cups. If you're in a big enough group bring an extra bag to put your trash in so you're not trying to pick it all up at the end of the night when it's dark outside. As far as what foods to bring, my biggest recommendation is to not overdo it. Only bring what you think you'll actually eat. For instance last Thursday I brought hummus, pitas, three kinds of goat cheese, salami, fruit, bruschetta and slices of asiago baguette to feed 3-4 of us. For bread I like to pre-slice/tear it and stick it in a big tupperware so when we leave JOTG all I'll have to do is put lids back on what wasn't eaten and easily take it back home.
Here are a few more of our top JOTG tips -
|Here's the scene from my spot last Thursday. Lots of people, but still plenty of room to spread out.|
2. If you can, walk. I live within a 15 minute walk of Turner Park, so I don't mess around with driving up there. If you live in the neighborhood, I would highly recommend you do the same. It's not that tough to carry your picnic items down there, just invest in some good reusable bags and/or a backpack. The garages around Midtown Crossing are free for the first three hours, but trust me, you don't want to get stuck in that traffic when you go to leave. Once it literally took us an hour to leave from our parking space out to Farnam Street. It was a good thing we had an extra bottle of wine to drink to pass the time (shhh). Parking on the street is a good option too. Head down to Harney Street and there's usually a few open spots.
|Make sure you bring some good friends like these two lovebirds who are getting married in almost a month|
3. If you want to chat, sit on the side of the stage. You'll usually find us on the southeast corner of the park away from the stage because it's quieter over here (also you'll find more smokers over here which is ok by us). The music is much louder in the middle of the bowl, which may be what you're looking for. It's a little more cramped in the middle and remember the sun doesn't go down until 9, which means that the middle of the bowl will be in sunlight for a long time.
|Remember our friend G and the koozies we made him last year for his birthday? I like to call this photo, "Hey G, Make the Face". You'll notice his mustache is the newest addition to his face since last year|
4. Invest in a good chair, blanket, and ice packs. There are just some good basics to bring. While you will see some folks with extensive setups like tables, wine stakes, or baskets that fold out into a table, don't overcomplicate it. Remember, the more you bring, the more you'll have to take home later after a couple of glasses of wine. This is why my packing list usually is comprised of perishable items (like food and wine) so I can leave it at the park and not lug it all back home. Ice packs are a must as likely you'll want to drink cold white wine or beer. They make a wide variety of wine bags, but don't underestimate the efficiency of something like this.
|Here's a look inside my wine bag.|
|Here's a peek at our spread.|
5. MOST IMPORTANTLY: Keep an eye out for raccoon-tail guy. When you're at JOTG, make sure at least walk up closer to the stage to watch the band, and more so the people dancing. If in the crowd of dancers you see a middle-aged, shorter looking man who's possibly wearing a mesh shirt and always wearing some sort of animal tail on his pants, stop and observe him. He's got the moves and charisma to sweep any woman off her feet and has a proclivity to seek older women as dance partners. It's mesmerizing. We dubbed him "The Mayor of Omaha" and he's practically a hero in our eyes. The best part about this tip is once you've seen him, you'll see him pop up at almost every free outdoor event and possibly in your neighborhood, just strolling along. In fact, one day earlier this year Cooper and I were driving to his dad's place when we saw raccoon tail guy walking a three-legged dog. It was amazing.
We hope to see you this Thursday at JOTG!!