Manuel Bangsil was walking with a friend in Midtown Crossing on Tuesday afternoon when he spotted a piano. On the sidewalk. With a sign nearby saying, "Play Me, I'm Yours."
It seemed too good to be true. I had wondered the same thing when I noticed the piano on my bike ride to work earlier in the day.
"Can you play that?" he asked.
"Yes," I told him. "That's what it's there for."
Bangsil walked up to the keyboard and launched into "Dahil sa Isang Bulaklak" (Because of One Flower), a beloved love song from his native Philippines.
Give people a chance to be creative, and they will unleash their artistic sides, or at least have some fun. That started happening with "Play Me, I'm Yours" before the Omaha Creative Institute-sponsored project even officially started. (It launches at 10 a.m. Friday with festivities near the war memorial in Omaha's Memorial Park.)
"They seize it and go," said Susan Thomas, the Creative Institute's executive director.
Artists have painted 10 pianos for the project. They are being placed Thursday outside at landmark locations around Omaha and Council Bluffs. Artists and other organizations were inspired to do three more "rogue pianos," such as the one at Midtown Crossing.
You don't have to be a pianist to play them, as proven by this video of your humble correspondent playing half of "Heart and Soul" on a rogue piano.
Map: Where can you play?
You can submit your own piano-playing videos, selfies or videos of others, to the "Play Me, I'm Yours" website.