Chittenango turns into Land of Oz for annual festival

Jun 7, 2014

The village of Chittenango has transformed into the Land of Oz this weekend for its annual celebration of the Wizard of Oz and its creator.

The town is marking a special anniversary with a record setting attempt. Hundreds of people will gather today at the Chittenango High School dressed as characters from the Wizard of Oz. They’re trying to set the world record for most people to do so in one place. England holds that title right now.

The 1939 classic film turns 75 this year. And the birthplace of the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz books, L. Frank Baum, has been hosting Oz-Stravaganza for 36 years.

Chloe Laufer poses next to a character from The Wizard of Oz.
Credit Ryan Delaney / WRVO

"We are very proud that it all started right here in our village," said Colleen Zimmer, co-director of Oz-Stravaganza and helps run the All Things Oz Museum.

She says fans are split between following Baum’s Oz books and loving the movie starring Judy Garland.

But what draws so many people, she says, is that multiple generations fall in the love with story, be it the books, the movie, or Broadway show.

"It’s nice to see a little three-year-old walking around with mom and dad, and grandma, and great grandma, and everybody relates to the same thing," she said.

Chloe Laufer and her mother are visiting the Oz museum and festival for the first time and with just a few steps into the museum, she calls out, "Dorothy! Dorothy! Over there!"