As one of the best-known stories in American literature, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has brought people together from across the world, and now, it’s bringing people to one central location in downtown Holland.
A project five years in the making, the Holland Oz Project — a partnership between the Holland Area Visitors Bureau, Holland in Bloom, Herrick District Library and City of Holland — is a free, outdoor, permanent exhibit that honors author L. Frank Baum’s ties to Holland. Baum spent his summers vacationing at Macatawa Park on the shores of Lake Michigan, with Holland being the inspiration behind the classic tale.
At the southwest corner of Centennial Park and the northeast corner of Herrick District Library, there now sits a 10-foot-by-12-foot replica of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz book made of annual plants, surrounded by a yellow brick road. Six life-size sculptures of different characters — Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Munchkin and Fighting Tree — will be installed on Aug. 15 and line the yellow brick road leading up to the library.
“The sculptures are designed to be interactive for the kids,” said Linda Hart, community outreach coordinator of the Holland Area Visitors Bureau. “For example, the Tin Man is on one knee. We didn’t just want standing sculptures; we knew that kids were going to climb on them, so we made it accessible.”
To help support the project, personalized, engraved yellow bricks are available for purchase. For $100, people can have their brick at Centennial Park in front of the book or at the library at the end of the yellow brick road. For $200, people can purchase a brick in front of their favorite character.
“The interest in this project has just been amazing,” said Sally Laukitis, executive director of the Holland Area Visitors Bureau. “We’re finding that people just gravitate to this story. I think we’re already seeing what this project is doing for the Holland community, in terms of bringing people together — everyone loves a good story.”