A Little Time and a Keyboard: Capturing Childhood Whimsy at Chicago's Oz Park

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Capturing Childhood Whimsy at Chicago's Oz Park

 Capturing Childhood Whimsy at Chicago's Oz Park

Skipping Along With Familiar Oz Friends at Chicago's Oz Park

Childhood magic bubbles throughout the whimsical Oz Park tucked in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. Not too far from notable Chicago family favorites the Lincoln Park Zoo and Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, amblers visit with the fanciful and charming characters of Wizard of Oz adding to family adventures to the area.

The Cowardly Lion of Chicago's Oz Park rises above onlookers cutting a brave figure!
The Cowardly Lion rises above onlookers cutting a brave figure!

Honoring Local Author Lyman Frank Baum

Officially named Oz Park, the playful green space honors former Lincoln Park resident and author of  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Lyman Frank Baum. Established as a portion of an urban renewal project, the park became a spot of joy for the the community. The park was originally established in 1974 and named in 1976. The amusing sculptures were added years later.


Chicago artist John Kearney crafted the jovial sculptures each bringing Oz characters to life. The Tin Man sculpture depicting Dorothy's compassionate while clanking beloved friend emerged in the park in October of 1995.After Tin Man, three more sculptures would be added.

The Scarecrow awaits to charm children and adults alike at Lincoln Park's Oz Park.
The Scarecrow awaits to charm children and adults alike.

Not too far from the Tin Man, silly and sweet Scarecrow stands guard over the "Emerald Garden." In warmer months, the green space delights the community with brilliant flowers.

The snow covered Emerald Garden provides a refreshing green space in warmer months.
The snow covered Emerald Garden provides a refreshing green space in warmer months.

Our path through Oz Park guided us around the "Emerald Garden" to childhood dream castle play area, "Dorothy's Playlot." The playlot includes plenty of room for exploration and wonder. My daughter would have easily spent hours here when she was younger! The playlot not only gives a nod to Oz but also to donor and former teacher Dorothy Melamerson.

Oz's wonderland includes a large playground full of adventure at Oz Park in Chicago's Lincoln Park.
Oz's wonderland includes a large playground full of adventure!

There Is No Place Like Home

Pure delight filled us when we spotted Dorothy and Toto! Kearney did a fabulous job of adding the dazzle of Dorothy's Ruby Slippers! You will notice Toto sporting some hats. This is way to spread winter warmth to those in need. You will see this action of generosity throughout the city and even the suburbs.

Toto hopping on Dorothy as she walks in her dazzling Ruby Slippers at Oz Park.
Toto hopping on Dorothy as she walks in her dazzling Ruby Slippers.

Statue Stories Chicago

Three of the sculptures are talking statues -- part of the Statue Stories Chicago project incorporating stories behind the statues told by members of the Chicago arts community. When you visit one of these statues, you can even use the QR code or the URL to trigger the statue to call you. I am not sure how long the project will last, but if you encounter the signs try it out!


We parked near the Cowardly Lion, so we left this sculpture for last. I love how Kearney entirely captured the facial expression  and posture of lion! I am always amazed by how sculptors can capture expression with such rigid materials!

Wandering through Oz was just what we needed on a winter's day! We smiled immediately upon seeing the sculptures while parking. A trip to Oz really takes you back to those childhood joys quite effortlessly! A little slice of magic!

**Please check on updates on open or closed status of nearby attractions. Please also researched timed entry if applicable.

Capturing Childhood Whimsy at Chicago's Oz Park


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