Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Childhood Wonderland

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Childhood Wonderland

Article excerpt

It's not uncommon to see life-size versions of fairy tale characters at theme parks that charge heavy admission fees, but at a free public park? That's a little different. At Wylie Park in Aberdeen, South Dakota, the attractions of Storybook Land and the Land of Oz have been enchanting visitors for almost 40 years.

Conceived in the late 1960s as a tribute to The Wizard of Oz author and former Ab- erdeen resident L. Frank Baum, Storybook Land and the Land of Oz were originally envisioned to showcase 15 storybook characters and 10 figures from the Oz book series. The Aberdeen Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department and the Aberdeen Sertoma Club, a local philanthropic organization, partnered early on in the project with a united goal to provide a community amenity that would be forever free of charge.

"That was always the agreement," says Bob Gruman, Sertoma's chairman of the Sto- rybook Land Committee and a key figure since the advent of the project. A number of local businesses have stepped up to fund individual sculptures and sets, and Doro- thy's iconic Yellow Brick Road connects many of the different elements throughout the park. …

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