More pieces of ‘Oz’ pop up in Holland

Ottawa County

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — The connection between “The Wizard of Oz” writer L. Frank Baum and the Holland area is one few people know about.

Baum penned his classic novel while vacationing at his family’s cottage along the shore of Lake Michigan near Holland. Some of the book’s characters and settings are said to be inspired by his time along the lakeshore.

“They’ve got the West Michigan connection with a story everybody in the world knows, I think,” said Karen Townsend.

Now Holland is recognizing its role in the creation of the famed fairy tale beginning with a 10-foot-by-12-foot mockup of the book’s cover, created out of living plants.

The floral mosaic was installed in Centennial Park earlier this summer.

To experience the rest of the tribute, just follow the yellow brick road.

pathway with wizard of oz book
A brick pathway leads to a living mosaic of plants representing “The Wizard of Oz” book. (Aug. 30, 2019)

Friday, three generations of “The Wizard of Oz” fans did just that. Lily Townsend, 5, and her little brother, mother and grandmother followed the yellow bricks engraved with project donor names and messages in search of their commemorative brick.

“Right There! There it is. There it is,” said an excited Lily as she found it.

Bricks with names
Brick pavers show the names and messages of donors to “The Wizard of Oz” tribute in Holland.

The yellow brick road takes visitors across the street to the Herrick Library where artist Nick Christensen will begin installing six life-size bronze sculptures of Oz characters Friday, from the Tin Man to Toto.

“It does bring back memories of from childhood, which is pretty unique,” said Christensen.

The statues near the library will become permanent fixtures in Holland, reminding visitors of the book that inspired a classic movie and bridged several generations since it was written 119 years ago.

Dorothy and toto statues
An Aug. 30, 2019 photo shows the bronze figures of Dorothy and Toto from “The Wizard of Oz” being installed in Holland.

“It’s for the community, it’s for the children, ya know. Grown-ups as well, reliving their childhood,” said Christensen.

“The Wizard of Oz” project involves the Holland Area Visitor’s Bureau, Holland in Bloom, Herrick District Library and the city of Holland. You can follow the project’s progress on the Holland Oz Project’s website.

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