By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
The Friends of Linden Hill host the first ever “Oz Celebration” Thursday, Aug. 15, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The evening will be a celebration of all things “Oz.” Memorabilia from the movie “The Wizard of Oz” and from the connection of the movie’s key players with Little Falls will be on display.
The event will take place in the Emerald City, located at the pavilion on the Linden Hill grounds, in Little Falls.
“The Friends of the Linden Hill Board feels it’s important to tie the Linden Hill homes to the community,” said President of the Board
Pat Sharon. “Laura Jane Musser wanted the homes to be used by the community and the history of her family shared.”
Laura Jane Musser was the last of the Little Falls Mussers to live in the home, now open to the public at Linden Hill.
Laura’s cousin, Peter Musser, and L. Frank Baum, the author of the Wizard of Oz books, were good friends. Musser even invested in the 1939 movie, which kindled the family’s interest in Baum and his books.
Laura, who was born three years before Baum died, was also a great fan of the books and helped put on productions of the story around Minnesota, plus she would frequented Wizard of Oz conventions.
“While at one of the conventions, she met Margaret Hamilton who played the Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 production of ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ They became great friends and vacationed together annually in Hawaii. Hamilton even came to stay in Little Falls for a time,” said Sharon.
The Friends of Linden Hill is hoping to rekindle interest in The Wizard of Oz with the upcoming celebration.
During the evening, people will be able to see a display of Baum’s books as well as those about the Wizard of Oz written by others after his death.
There will be an exhibit on Margaret Hamilton and her friendship with Musser and at 7:30 p.m. there will be a showing of portions of “The Wizard of Oz.”
A Ruby Slipper Contest has been planned and the winner will be announced that evening. The Friends hope to see many ruby slippers, either one shoe or a pair, entered in the contest.
Another contest will decide the winner of the best Toto look-alike. The Friends request dog owners bring a photo of their pet, not the actual dog.
“This is an event for the young-at-heart,” said Sharon. The Oz Celebration is free to the public.