by J1 Reporter Maggie Peklo
Neighbors are fighting to preserve kids’ innocence and even their lives. Teachers are fighting to keep a safe environment and mold confident, independent leaders. Their opponent is the potential bikini bar named Kandi’s, formerly Candyland, opening on the Southwest corner of 72nd and Blondo. With this establishment being less than three minutes away from three schools, Marian being one, and less than a block away from two day care facilities, the safe environment is at risk.
“People who would frequent an establishment like that are people you do not want hanging out in the neighborhood, and they bring nefarious behavior. It just doesn’t bring the best crowd around. It exposes kids to [adult content] at an early age and brings up uncomfortable conversations. Their innocence is something that should be preserved,” Mrs. Jaime Piernicky, Marian math teacher and mother of a freshman at Creighton Prep, said.
“It speaks poorly of a society that is willing to pay to do this. What else are they willing to pay for?” Piernicky asked.
“It makes sense for a DQ, Burger King, Family Dollar, McDonalds, and gas stations to be adjacent to one another. Those are family-friendly establishments near to 72nd and Blondo, and ones that bring the community together. I know Prep and older SPSL students frequent those establishments. Kandi’s is not family-friendly nor a fit for that corner,” Mrs. Beth Engel, mother of four at St. Pius X and alumna of both St. Pius X and Marian, said.
“The location is so close to schools and a day care that increased traffic jeopardizes safety of walkers…It can bring anything,” Mrs. Jennifer Christen, administrator at Marian, parent, and parishioner at St. Pius X, said.
“I think it will make women concerned, nervous, and unsafe in that area. It definitely goes against Marian’s mission of forming strong, confident leaders,” Christen said.
“I think people are impacted by the community around them, often overtly, but sometimes indirectly. Marian students may not be directly impacted, but seeing examples of businesses who profit because women are objectified is troubling,” Engel said.
Due to the concerns of parents, the owner was denied a liquor license. Engel was a part of an organized group of parents, parishioners, and fellow Omaha citizens who petitioned. It started with individuals who reached out through emailing and calling the Omaha City Council. Many people attended and spoke at the city council meeting in July. The owner was denied his liquor license by a unanimous vote.
They took another step to further the petitioning by submitting a formal protest against the establishment to the State Liquor Commission. They had a table at the parish during weekend Masses, so parishioners could be informed and participate. The Liquor Commissions received more than 700 forms. With the record number of petitioners, the Liquor Commissions had to move the site of the hearing from the typical small room to a larger hearing room in the State Capitol.
Engel attended the Liquor Commission Hearing in October, and she supported those who spoke out against the establishment. The Liquor Commission unanimously decided to deny the liquor license to the establishment at this location.
“There is a feeling of satisfaction, control, and power that individual people feel when working toward a cause together can truly impact the outcome of something. Your voice matters! It felt good that the liquor license request was denied,” Engel said.
“I think the more you put into impacting your community, the more you can get out of your community. We have to keep working day-by-day to make our school, church, and neighborhood as welcoming as it can be,” Engel said. “I know that the owner can legally open his business, and there may be other locations which would not voice their opposition.”
The community has worked to make the area safe, inviting, and unique.
“I feel good about this, and it is a step in the right direction. However, it can still open without a liquor license which means people can drink in their cars or in the parking lot instead then go in to watch women dance. I think we need to keep petitioning to authorities, peacefully protesting, and being present,” Christen said.
However, the owner has pursued opening his business in a legal matter. Parents, parishioners, and neighbors are still fighting to keep their safe environment and kids’ innocence. They refuse to back down.
“There may be nothing legally that can be done to prevent the establishment from opening. If it does open, it doesn’t mean that people must patronize it,” Engel said. “I certainly will not. Instead, I will work to make my church and parish community the best it can be, in spite of challenges like this establishment being in the area.”