The "ambassadors" roaming through downtown Omaha with information about restaurants, tourist attractions, transportation and directions for lost visitors are coming back for a second year — and in greater numbers.
The Downtown Welcome Ambassador program, run by the Omaha Downtown Improvement District, will be back up and running Thursdays through Sundays beginning April 26.
The effort will include extra hours on the weekends and more ambassadors working on Fridays and Saturdays, thanks to additional funding from Union Pacific. Ambassadors also will carry maps for visitors and there will be more signs up to let people know when the program is operating.
Last year, the Downtown Improvement District's budget for the program was $10,000. This year, the district's board boosted that number to $14,500, and U.P. chipped in an additional $10,000, a move the company said is a nod to the railroad's history in Omaha and its 150th anniversary celebration this year.
Ambassadors are employees of Frontline Security, which contracts with the improvement district. They receive training in first aid, CPR and local information and events. They'll be out in the Old Market, wearing bright red shirts with Downtown Improvement District and U.P. logos from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and from noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
Joe Gudenrath, executive director of the improvement district, said the ambassadors were a hit last year and he expects they'll be in demand as visitors start turning up for big events.
"We actually saw people lining up to see ambassadors, which clearly demonstrated a need and an interest," he said.
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