OMAR the Troll Takes Up Residency at Bob Kerrey Bridge


OMAR the Troll is found in various branding materials from Visit Omaha that can be discovered at the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. (Courtesy Visit Omaha)
By 
Scott Stewart
The Daily Record

Visit Omaha announced a new attraction at the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge last week.

OMAR the Troll has taken up residency, and visitors can find him under the bridge, read about his adventures in a new book, watch videos of the troll or even use social media filters to become their own unique take on OMAR, which is short for Omaha Metro Area River troll.

“Independent research revealed the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge was a top attraction for out-of-town visitors,” Keith Backsen, executive director for Visit Omaha, the city’s official tourism authority, said in a news release last Wednesday. “Our goal in creating OMAR was to further enhance the riverfront experience and create another distinctly fun reason for people to visit the bridge.”

Omaha artist John Lajba, who sculpted the “Road to Omaha” statue outside TD Ameritrade Park and the bronze statutes at the Durham Museum, created a bronze “OMAR the Troll” statute that is now under the pedestrian bridge on the Omaha side.

Michael Torres, an Omaha scenic and fabrication artist, created a mud and tree-branch home out of concrete for the troll. The installation was placed to show the underbelly of the bridge when visitors snap photos of OMAR.

QR-coded signs are placed at three spots on the bridge to link visitors with interactive videos of the troll. A Snapchat filter is also available in the area of the bridge.

Visit Omaha also created a new book, “OMAR Finds a Home,” that shows OMAR at different Omaha attractions searching for his home. The tourism authority is donating a copy of the book to more than 600 third-grade classes throughout the Omaha metropolitan area. Books are also being donated to each branch of the Omaha Public Library.

According to Visit Omaha, the book teaches children about local tourism assets and aims to inspire civic pride and encourage them to be brand ambassadors for the city.

The book is currently being sold for $12.95 at the Omaha Visitors Center, 1001 Farnam St., and at the Joslyn Art Museum, Durham Museum and the Omaha Children’s Museum gift shops.

“Our ultimate goal is that OMAR becomes part of the folklore of our city,” said Deborah Ward, vice president of marketing for Visit Omaha.

The OMAR sculpture was made possible thanks to a grant from the Douglas County Visitor Improvement Fund. Assistance also came from Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, students from Nelson Mandela Elementary School, Douglas County Commissioners, Douglas County Visitor Promotion Council, Omaha City Parks Department, metro area schools, the Omaha Public Arts Commission and Swanson Russell.

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