IT'S ALWAYS A LITTLE OZ-Y... around certain pockets of the country. It just matters, really, where you happen to be, and if that place is a little magical. It's not unlike the spirit of "The Wizard of Oz," in fact, where Oz served as a whimsical, glittering city, one that held a lot of allure for Miss Dorothy Gale. But whimsical locations with Oz-like overtones exist now, today, in our country, from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota to The Culver Hotel in Culver City, which is where many of the cast members stayed, including the actors who played the Munchkins, while the film was shot at nearby MGM.
BUT CORONADO ISLAND... might have some of the Oz-est cred in all the land, thanks to the fact that author L. Frank Baum penned many a fantastical adventure while residing in the San Diego burg. Not only did he spend quite a bit of time there, but he played a designer, too, for the Hotel del Coronado (those crown chandeliers in the main ballroom are straight from Mr. Baum's imagination). And Coronado pauses a couple of times each year to pay homage to his books and film, whether it is the summertime Winkie Con or Celebrate Oz! on Saturday, Oct. 17. Celebrate Oz! is just ahead, and much like in the story, a mayor will make a cameo, though it shall be Mayor Casey Tanaka of Coronado, do note, and not the Mayor of Munchkinland.
SPRECKELS PARK... is the location, the hours are 10 a.m. to 3 o'clock, and it is free to join. If you have a Wicked Witch hat and stripey socks or a scarecrow get-up, you'll want to wear it, the better to dance to the tunes of the Coronado Concert Band. To say Coronado takes its "Wizard"-wonderful heritage seriously is an understatement, but the pretty idyll is never formal or serious about it. The town simply is committed to honoring one of its great fictional legacies, and one great real-world writer, too, via costumes and music and dance. And that's an approach as glittery as Glinda's magical bubble.