The magic of Oz

Statue of Tin Man in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago
The Tin Man statue from the Wizard of Oz, on display at Oz Park in Chicago, IL

On  a stroll of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, I stumbled upon this statue of The Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. He is on display in Oz Park, which – appropriately – includes statues of the other main characters, as well.

The Wizard of Oz film came out in 1939, the novel in 1900. Why does the story endure? It is, after all, rather silly and non-sensical.

Last month, I attended an elementary school performance of The Wizard of Oz – an abridged version complete with not only songs from the film, but also pop tunes from the 70s to the present. Hard to believe you can make the story stranger, but there it was.

And yet, how revelatory it was to see the story from the point of view of young students who have yet to be corrupted by the grey areas of life, who still hold fast to the fundamental elements of humanity – truthfulness, hope, kindness, courage. The Wizard of Oz is about all of these things, and it is from the point of view of a young girl uncorrupted by the world she inhabits. It’s a wonder I was ever puzzled that the story endures.

Oz Park in Chicago is designed primarily as a kids’ playground. It is appropriate that they have the greatest claim to Oz.


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