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October 17th, 2019

baum visits liberalTim Baum, a member of the family of L. Frank Baum, who wrote “The Wizard of Oz” book series, recently visited Dorothy’s House with his wife Sandy Baum. Plans are currently under way for this year’s OzFest which celebrates the 80th anniversary of the classic movie. Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


This year will be a landmark year in celebrating the classic film “The Wizard of Oz” and with that in mind, this year’s OzFest event will be bringing back an old tradition. 

This year, OzFest will be preceded by a parade at 10 a.m. and will go from 7th Street to 1st Street on Kansas Avenue.

“The biggest thing is this year is the 80th anniversary of the movie, so it's a landmark year for it. And because the movie is celebrating an anniversary, we thought it would be a great idea to add a parade into the mix so individuals or groups could celebrate their own anniversary,” coordinator Earl Watt said. “If your club or business or anything has been around for any amount of years, come out and put in a float and show the community your commitment. And it doesn't even have to be that your anniversary is this month exactly, it could be in a few months or next year or some other point in time in the near future, but let's celebrate your anniversary alongside the anniversary of 'The Wizard of Oz.'”

And every parade needs floats, Watt said, individuals and groups in the community are encouraged to put one together. To sign up, contact Watt at the L&T offices at 620-626-0840. 

“We think the people in Liberal are just as Oz-some as Oz, so put in a float to highlight the uniqueness of your club/group. And because it's a landmark year, there will most likely be larger crowds, which means you'll get to see a lot of people, and a lot of people will see you, so it's great exposure,” Watt said. “Plus, you'll be supporting one of Liberal's most iconic attractions – we're known for Pancake Day and the Mid-America Air Museum, but we get so much traffic to Dorothy's House and the Land of Oz since we gave Dorothy a home, and it's special. And the movie continues to touch generations as the years go by, so be part of that – put a float in and show how awesome your group is.”

With this being the first OzFest parade in several years, Watt said OzFest coordinators are somewhat playing it by ear as far as expectations for the parade. 

“This isn't actually the first time we've had a parade to go with OzFest. When it started, we had huge parades and look-a-like contests and cosplayers – it was HUGE. We've gone away from the parade in more recent years, but we want to bring back that tradition of the OzFest parade and really build up how big Oz in Kansas is, especially in Liberal,” Watt said. “As far as actual expectations, we have no idea because it all depends on the community – it's up to them to enter floats and/or classic cars, and it's up to the people to come out and actually watch the parade and see everything. It's a Saturday morning parade, and once you're done with the parade, people will head right out to the Dorothy's House/Land of Oz grounds at the Coronado Museum to see the rest of the entertainment that will be happening throughout that day. It's a chance to get started on the Oz celebration a little early, and it's the 80th year, so if people want it to be a big celebration, people need to come out and put together floats and support it by watching. And people love classic cars, so if you have one you want to highlight and show off, bring it out. If you want to get the word out about your group, get a group and float together and sign yourselves up. It's also free to enter, it's no cost to drive down Kansas Avenue and be part of the 80th anniversary of ‘The Wizard of Oz.’”

Everyone in the community is invited and encouraged to see this year’s parade and all its participants. 

“It leads right into the celebrations that will start at the museum grounds, so it's a great way to get into the spirit of what that day's about by seeing the floats and everything. In the movie, the gang's welcomed into the Emerald City by basically a parade and get all spiffed up and cleaned up and everything, and in a way, we're doing the same thing,” Watt said. “This is our best version of Comic Con – you can dress up and go all out with the Wizard of Oz costumes, so bust that stuff out and come out and be part of it and enjoy the day. Really, just have fun with it and even if you're just there to watch, come out in character. Since we're bringing back the parade after not having it for several years, we really don't know what to expect, but we hope since this is a landmark year, that will make it exciting and draw people out. We hope to have a good crowd at all the festivities and I've already heard some chatter about some of the things that will be going on. Many of us grew up knowing Kansas was a special place because Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz came from here and this movie made 80 years ago highlighted that, so Kansas has always been a special place. Kansas Avenue is going to be where OzFest starts, so if you want to enjoy it from the start, bring your children and families and just enjoy the day. There's going to be fun activities for everyone, so start the fun right out of the gate at 10 a.m. that day and then drive out to the rest of OzFest and have fun there.”

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