Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Off to See the Wizard in the Myriad Gardens



Wizard of Oz costume contestants Rylee Blackwell, 7, of Moore; Tori Garland, 4, of Duncan; Kassidy and Kennedy Epperson, 7, of Oklahoma City; and Makailah Deleon, 6, of Oklahoma City, onstage at the Myriad Gardens, July 29, 2015.

For the little girls hopping from foot to ruby-slippered foot in the creeping summer dusk of Myriad Gardens, the suspense was too much to bear.
 

Not only was their favorite movie about to begin on the big outdoor screen downtown, they were about to go on stage themselves for the pre-show Wizard of Oz costume contest.

Four-year-old Tori Garland, whose family drove the 80 miles up from Duncan, went with sparkly red flats and a white Toto with pink ribbons. The Epperson twins, 7, sported matching double braids, and carried matching Totos in matching picnic baskets. Makailah Deleon, 6, paired the traditional gingham-check blouse with a sky-blue tutu, and toted a Toto-free bedazzled bag of red sequins.

Despite a kaleidoscope of movie roles to choose from, all the early contestants this July night in Oklahoma City opted to portray the same character: Dorothy Gale of Kansas.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published in 1900, the first of a series of 14 novels by L. Frank Baum set in the magical kingdom of Oz and surrounding lands. It has been called the first great American fairy tale, breaking with the European storytelling tradition of a heroine waiting to be rescued, and centering instead on the adventures of a self-reliant girl who saves herself.
 


The author, born in upstate New York in 1856, was unusual for his time. A military academy dropout, actor, poet, journalist and businessman, his Nov. 9, 1882, marriage to Maud Gage – youngest daughter of noted abolitionist and suffragette Matilda Joslyn Gage – was hailed by the local newspaper as “one of equality.” In an era when the bride’s vows included a promise to obey her husband, the newspaper noted that, in the Baums’ ceremony, “the promises required of the bride were precisely the same as those required of the groom.”

Baum’s egalitarian outlook and fantastical world of Oz irked critics for decades. Some claimed the story had an “ungodly” influence on children, glorifying a headstrong girl who disobeys authority and saves three male characters on her way to destroying two evil witches and unmasking the great wizard as a fraud.

In 1928, the city of Chicago banned the Oz books from its public libraries, declaring them “not literature, but, somehow, rather evil for children.” In 1957, Ralph Ulveling, director of the Detroit Public Library, admitted the books had been outlawed in the system for 30 years, adding “There is nothing uplifting or elevating about the series.” Despite protests, he promised the library staff would “stick to our guns” – the ban was not lifted until 1972. In 1959, the state librarian of Florida ruled that the books were “unwholesome for children” and urged their removal, which led to curious children seeking them out and fueled a new surge in the stories’ popularity. In 1986, a lawsuit in Hawkins County, Tennessee, challenged the initial novel’s inclusion in public school curricula, objecting to the evils of talking animals, self-determination and “secular humanism,” and maintaining it is “theologically impossible” for good witches to exist.


► Betsy Bobbin of Oklahoma

If the producers of The Wizard of Oz had chosen the eighth book in the Oz series, Tik-Tok of Oz, instead of the first, the world would celebrate not Dorothy Gale of Kansas, but Betsy Bobbin of Oklahoma. Author L. Frank Baum described Betsy as shy and blonde with a pixie cut. Instead of landing in Munchkinland aboard a tornado-tossed farmhouse, like Dorothy, Betsy arrives in the Rose Kingdom after being washed ashore by stormy seas after a shipwreck.  Instead of being accompanied by Toto,the trusty dog, Betsy travels with Hank, the loyal mule. By the end of the book, Princess Ozma invites Betsy and Hank to the Emerald City to hang out with Dorothy and Toto.


But in the 115 years since the book’s publication, fans of the land of Oz have far outnumbered its detractors. In an April 9, 1957, newspaper editorial mocking Detroit’s book ban, the Toledo Blade warned: “The latest intelligence from the Emerald City is that the Wizard of Oz and the Wicked Witch of the West are about to join forces and send the Munchkin army to attack the Detroit Public Library in full force. Against such a force, Mr. Ulveling’s guns will do him no good. He will need a little imagination, of which he seems to have very little.”

The Myriad Gardens crowd has swollen into thousands of fans ready for a dose of flying monkeys, singing Munchkins, thinking scarecrows, and lions and tigers and bears. Families sprawl on blankets, teenagers hold hands and cooler-toting couples perch on lawn chairs, occupying the entire great lawn and backing up onto the hill on Hudson.

But first, the pre-show costume contest. The parade of little girls in Dorothy dresses is joined by a lone figure in black: 7-year-old Rylee Blackwell of Moore. She stands at the far end of the line, all-in with green facepaint and an oversized pointy hat, completing her Wicked Witch of the West tribute by clutching a captive Toto.

In an upset, she is declared winner over all the Dorothys.

The contestants pick their way back through the crowd to nestle in with their families as dusty clouds and a sepia-toned tornado gyrate across the screen, tossing a flying farmhouse over the rainbow. As darkness settles in across the Plains, Dorothy and Toto began their journey down the yellow brick road fortified by the brains of a scarecrow, the good heart of a tin man, the courage of a lion and the hard-won knowledge that, in the end, there is no place like home.  


Editor’s note: This installment is part of author M.J. Alexander’s 77 Counties series, chronicling her travels across Oklahoma. The full series is available at sliceok.com/travel/

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »You Might Like

New Orleans Bound: Heading Down to the Big Easy

Steamboats to street musicians, incredible food and a perennial party atmosphere – the Crescent City is a prime destination year-round.

Culinary Cruises: Haute Cuisine on the High Seas

To find new heights of delicious refinement, head to sea and explore the improved dining possibilities on luxury cruises.

The Astounding Adventures of the Abernathy Boys

In her ongoing travels through Oklahoma, author and photographer M.J. Alexander visits Frederick to learn the saga of two pioneer boys who became hard-traveling celebrities.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

September 2019

The Musical Swings is an interactive public art installation featuring 10 swings that each activate a different note, allowing participants to make music, connect to one another and have a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bicentennial Park
201 North Walker Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma City Community Foundation
Telephone: 405-606-2922
Contact Name: Kasey Gardner
Website »

More information

Featuring more than 70 works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift of...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

A Texas State of Mind, featuring the art of Larry G. Lemons of Nocona, TX, is coming to the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK.  A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 - 6:30...

Cost: $4-$6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
www.onthechisholmtrail.com
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

Forms Through Language: an exhibition by San Francisco Artist Gyöngy Laky. On view September 12 – October 31. Free and open to the public. Join us for Laky's Artist Reception on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

    OKC's premiere chamber orchestra presents their 2019-2020 season opening concert! This concert will include Mozart’s Piano Concert No. 23, featuring pianist soloist,...

Cost: Free

Where:
21C Hotel
900 W. Main St.
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Telephone: 405-268-3978
Contact Name: Katie Barrick
Website »

More information

Bill Maher is an American comedian, Emmy nominated talk show host and political commentator who has been entertaining live audiences on the stage and on the television for three...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall
201 N Walker Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Broadway & DCF Concerts
Telephone: 405-594-8300
Website »

More information

The Barber of Seville Rossini’s comic masterpiece comes to the Freede Little Theater! When Count Almaviva and his love Rosina run into an issue preventing them from being married -...

Cost: $35 or $50. Prices do not include fees.

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall
201 N Walker Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Painted Sky Opera
Telephone: 405-594-8300
Website »

More information

EVERY BRILLIANT THING strikes a delicate balance between sobering loss and cathartic laughter as it recounts a life lived in the shadow of suicide.  By Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe,...

Cost: 40.00

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall
201 N Walker Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma City Rep
Telephone: 405-594-8300
Website »

More information

For the First time ever in Oklahoma City Pauleen & La Brasa present Bollywood Dance Night . Introducing Hindi Music @La Brasa Saturday 21st September. 10 PM 

Cost: $5

Where:
La Brasa
1310 NW 25th ST
Oklahoma , OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: Pauleen
Contact Name: Pauleen

More information

La Brasa & Pauleen present Bollywood Night at La Brasa this Saturday, September 21st.  This is one of the first Hindi Music events to happen in Oklahoma City and anyone can come...

Cost: $5

Where:
La Brasa
1310 NW 25th St
Oklahoma City , OK  73105
View map »


Telephone: 405-524-2251
Contact Name: Pauleen
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Musical Swings is an interactive public art installation featuring 10 swings that each activate a different note, allowing participants to make music, connect to one another and have a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bicentennial Park
201 North Walker Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma City Community Foundation
Telephone: 405-606-2922
Contact Name: Kasey Gardner
Website »

More information

Forms Through Language: an exhibition by San Francisco Artist Gyöngy Laky. On view September 12 – October 31. Free and open to the public. Join us for Laky's Artist Reception on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Musical Swings is an interactive public art installation featuring 10 swings that each activate a different note, allowing participants to make music, connect to one another and have a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bicentennial Park
201 North Walker Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma City Community Foundation
Telephone: 405-606-2922
Contact Name: Kasey Gardner
Website »

More information

Forms Through Language: an exhibition by San Francisco Artist Gyöngy Laky. On view September 12 – October 31. Free and open to the public. Join us for Laky's Artist Reception on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Join us as we welcome poet, musician and Native American activist Lyla June as the keynote speaker of the eighth annual Ableson Religious Reconciliation Lecture on Sept. 24. Starting at 7 p.m. in...

Cost: Free

Where:
USAO Ballroom
1727 W. Alabama Ave.
Chickasha, OK  73018
View map »


Sponsor: University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
Telephone: 405-574-1381
Contact Name: Zach Simpson
Website »

More information

Audiences across North America are toasting a new production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF! Rich with musical hits you know and love, including "Tradition," "Sunrise, Sunset;'...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall
201 N Walker Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Broadway
Telephone: 405-594-8300
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Musical Swings is an interactive public art installation featuring 10 swings that each activate a different note, allowing participants to make music, connect to one another and have a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bicentennial Park
201 North Walker Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma City Community Foundation
Telephone: 405-606-2922
Contact Name: Kasey Gardner
Website »

More information

Forms Through Language: an exhibition by San Francisco Artist Gyöngy Laky. On view September 12 – October 31. Free and open to the public. Join us for Laky's Artist Reception on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Audiences across North America are toasting a new production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF! Rich with musical hits you know and love, including "Tradition," "Sunrise, Sunset;'...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall
201 N Walker Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Broadway
Telephone: 405-594-8300
Website »

More information

Dive Bar Saints World Tour DIVE BAR SAINTS, is the title track in Home Free’s upcoming album release, which is out this summer.  The band’s rich, Southern harmonies...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Hudiburg Chevrolet Center
6000 Prosper Blvd
Midwest City, OK  73110
View map »


Sponsor: Emproium Presents
Telephone: 405-594-8300
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Musical Swings is an interactive public art installation featuring 10 swings that each activate a different note, allowing participants to make music, connect to one another and have a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bicentennial Park
201 North Walker Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma City Community Foundation
Telephone: 405-606-2922
Contact Name: Kasey Gardner
Website »

More information

Forms Through Language: an exhibition by San Francisco Artist Gyöngy Laky. On view September 12 – October 31. Free and open to the public. Join us for Laky's Artist Reception on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Professional instruction in the art of improvisation. Though some experience with improvisation is beneficial, all skill levels are welcome, no prerequisite classes.  Though sketch comedy...

Cost: $175 for the full term

Where:
The Paramount Room
701 W. Sheridan Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: The Space OKC
Telephone: 405-887-3327
Contact Name: AL Caveny
Website »

More information

Audiences across North America are toasting a new production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF! Rich with musical hits you know and love, including "Tradition," "Sunrise, Sunset;'...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall
201 N Walker Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Broadway
Telephone: 405-594-8300
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

DAY OUT WITH THOMAS™: THE STEAM TEAM TOUR 2019 IS PULLING INTO OKLAHOMA RAILWAY MUSEUM FOR THOMAS & FRIENDS’ BIGGEST YEAR YET! ENJOY A DAY OF FAMILY FUN WITH THOMAS THE TANK...

Cost: $18

Where:
Oklahoma Railway Museum
3400 NE Grand Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Contact Name: Danielle Fusaro
Website »

More information

The Musical Swings is an interactive public art installation featuring 10 swings that each activate a different note, allowing participants to make music, connect to one another and have a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bicentennial Park
201 North Walker Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma City Community Foundation
Telephone: 405-606-2922
Contact Name: Kasey Gardner
Website »

More information

Forms Through Language: an exhibition by San Francisco Artist Gyöngy Laky. On view September 12 – October 31. Free and open to the public. Join us for Laky's Artist Reception on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District & Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and, quite possibly, an amazing...

Cost: Adult: $20 Seniors and Children: $15

Where:
Regatta Park Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73119
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma River Cruises
Telephone: 405-702-7755
Contact Name: Che Loessberg
Website »

More information

Professional instruction in the art of improvisation. Though some experience with improvisation is beneficial, all skill levels are welcome, no prerequisite classes.  Though sketch comedy...

Cost: $175 for the full term

Where:
The Paramount Room
701 W. Sheridan Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: The Space OKC
Telephone: 405-887-3327
Contact Name: AL Caveny
Website »

More information

Audiences across North America are toasting a new production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF! Rich with musical hits you know and love, including "Tradition," "Sunrise, Sunset;'...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall
201 N Walker Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Broadway
Telephone: 405-594-8300
Website »

More information

The Barber of Seville Rossini’s comic masterpiece comes to the Freede Little Theater! When Count Almaviva and his love Rosina run into an issue preventing them from being married -...

Cost: $35 or $50. Prices do not include fees.

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall
201 N Walker Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Painted Sky Opera
Telephone: 405-594-8300
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join us for the St. Jude Walk/Run during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September, to raise money for the kids of St. Jude, where families never receive a bill for anything. Let's end...

Cost: $10 Registration Fee

Where:
Myriad Botanical Gardens
301 W Reno Ave
Oklahoma City , OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Telephone: 405-815-5705
Contact Name: Emily Drover
Website »

More information

DAY OUT WITH THOMAS™: THE STEAM TEAM TOUR 2019 IS PULLING INTO OKLAHOMA RAILWAY MUSEUM FOR THOMAS & FRIENDS’ BIGGEST YEAR YET! ENJOY A DAY OF FAMILY FUN WITH THOMAS THE TANK...

Cost: $18

Where:
Oklahoma Railway Museum
3400 NE Grand Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Contact Name: Danielle Fusaro
Website »

More information

The Musical Swings is an interactive public art installation featuring 10 swings that each activate a different note, allowing participants to make music, connect to one another and have a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bicentennial Park
201 North Walker Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma City Community Foundation
Telephone: 405-606-2922
Contact Name: Kasey Gardner
Website »

More information

Forms Through Language: an exhibition by San Francisco Artist Gyöngy Laky. On view September 12 – October 31. Free and open to the public. Join us for Laky's Artist Reception on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: $59.95

Where:
The Skirvin Hilton
1 Park Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
Website »

More information

We're poppin' champagne on the patio this Saturday and raffling off a bottle of Perrier-Jouet valued at $300! Come pre-party with us and DJ Catherine Ouellette from 6pm-10pm -...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown Hotel
1, N Broadway Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District & Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and, quite possibly, an amazing...

Cost: Adult: $20 Seniors and Children: $15

Where:
Regatta Park Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73119
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma River Cruises
Telephone: 405-702-7755
Contact Name: Che Loessberg
Website »

More information

Professional instruction in the art of improvisation. Though some experience with improvisation is beneficial, all skill levels are welcome, no prerequisite classes.  Though sketch comedy...

Cost: $175 for the full term

Where:
The Paramount Room
701 W. Sheridan Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: The Space OKC
Telephone: 405-887-3327
Contact Name: AL Caveny
Website »

More information

Two big artists, one great night of music. 

Cost: $35-$65

Where:
The Auditorium at The Douglass
600 N. High
OKC, OK  73117
View map »


Sponsor: The Blue Door & Kessler Presentss
Telephone: 405-652-9541
Contact Name: Melissa Monroe
Website »

More information

Audiences across North America are toasting a new production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF! Rich with musical hits you know and love, including "Tradition," "Sunrise, Sunset;'...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall
201 N Walker Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Broadway
Telephone: 405-594-8300
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags