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A late-arriving crowd braved the heat and humidity Friday to party at the annual free concert in Omaha's Memorial Park.
It was a night of rock 'n' roll and fireworks for the estimated 70,000 who showed up. The crowd ranged from baby boomers to tykes blowing bubbles.
Leah Zimmerman, 30, of Omaha and her family arrived around 1:30 p.m. and got a front row spot.
They brought a cooler with plenty of water and coped with the heat for hours before the headliner, Huey Lewis and the News, stepped on stage about 8 p.m.
“Sunscreen was the one thing we forgot,” Zimmerman said.
Regina Fennewald, 49, of Omaha and high school classmates Dana and Nathan Blume of Osawatomie, Kan., have attended the show for the past three years. It's an annual reunion.
This year, they sat under the shade of trees to beat the heat.
“We figured it would be loud enough back here,” Nathan said.
By the time 6 p.m. rolled around and opening act Scarlett Drive took the stage, the crowd was only about 5,000 and traffic in the area was surprisingly light, said Omaha Police Lt. Marcia Janucik.
People started showing up as the sun was going down and another warm-up act, Mockingbird Sun, performed.
Lewis and his band, popular 1980s rockers, fired up the crowd. The group is known for such hits as “The Heart of Rock 'n' Roll'' and “The Power of Love.”
The concert, officially called Bank of the West Celebrates America, concluded with a 10-minute fireworks show accompanied by patriotic music.
It was a long day for some concertgoers.
Police officially opened the park at 5 a.m., allowing people to claim their spots.
About 60 people, some armed with flashlights and carts, entered the north entrance off Underwood Avenue in a controlled march to prime spots overlooking a large stage on the north side of Dodge Street.
“It's kind of like the Oklahoma land rush,'' Mike Holland said as he surveyed the crowd heading to the stage.
The concert is about giving back to Omaha, said Bob Dalrymple, an executive vice president with Bank of the West.
This was the sixth year the Food Bank for the Heartland worked with Bank of the West for the show.
The emphasis this year was donating to the food bank via texting. Attendees were asked to make a one-time donation of at least $10.
The concert “helps us out tremendously,” said Brian Barks, development director for the food bank. “There are about 200,000 people in Nebraska and western Iowa who are at risk for hunger.”
World-Herald staff writer Jay Withrow contributed to this report.