FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Exploring Oz Park

by John Wroblewski

May 31, 2021

I woke early on Sunday and decided to do something different. I spent a beautiful morning in Chicago’s Oz Park.

The 13.32-acre park on Chicago’s near north side was named Oz Park in 1976 in honor of Lyman Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. In 1891 Baum moved his family to Chicago, just west of the current Oz Park. He published the first Oz book in 1900, eventually publishing 14 total.

Oz Park contains four statues of Oz characters: Dorothy & Toto, The Tin Man, The Scarecrow and The Cowardly Lion. Artist John Kearney was originally contacted about creating the sculptures shortly after the park was named, but a series of events delayed the first one (The Tin Man) until 1995. The others followed over the next 12 years.

In keeping with the Oz theme, one section of the park is named Emerald Garden. Another area is Dorothy’s Playlot, a reference to the main young lady character, as well as Dorothy Melamerson, a major donor to the park’s improvements.

Armed with a couple bottles of water and a book, I found a shaded bench and dove into The Royal Book of Oz, an appropriate book choice, I thought. Originally printed in 1921, The Royal Book of Oz is the fifteenth book in the Oz series and the first written by Ruth Plumly Thompson. The newest edition features updated, all-new illustrations by my friend, Eisner Award-nominated artist Sara Richard.

After a few hours of getting lost in the world of Oz, the park started getting crowded, but just then I got a call to go to a Chicago Cubs game, about two miles to the north. That’s a story for another day, though.

— John Wroblewski, online writer

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