Sundy was another day and you could tell by the skies that it was gong to be yet another soggy day in Oz!
Despite my best efforts, I just couldn't keep the rain away. Every year, it seems to rain at least one day out of the three and Sunday was this years rainy day. Still though, spirits were high and Oz was everywhere. The rains certainly didn't seem to damper this Scarecrow's enthusiasm for Oz!
It was nice to see the International Wizard of Oz Club out and actively seeking new members.
And of course, the weather didn't deter the Fab Five from making their rounds throughout the park.
Be it the ball toss or Magic Matt with his incredible balloon hats, kids were having fun throughout the festival.
At around Noon, it was Magic Matt, a fellow magician and active member of the Society of American Magicians who delivered some very somber and devastating news for me personally.
If you've ever had the chance to read any of my Royal Magician of Oz trilogy books, you'll know who Hank and Buddy are. To clarify, Hank and Buddy are based on two old and dear friends, fellow magicians and overall great people who I knew back in the 70's. We were part of a group who founded Ring 210: the Duke Stern chapter of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. It was Hank who went on to a very successful career in magic, including the presidency of the S.A.M chapter in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His son Buddy and I were close friends during those early years. So Matt mentions that Hank Moorehouse had passed away several weeks ago while touring in China. Needless to say, I was devastated. Moments later, a haunting flute rendition of "Amazing Grace" came wafting over the loudspeakers in the park and I was left speechless. The rest of the day is a blur and sales were down anyway from the rain, so I was glad when 4 O'Clock came around and I could pack up before the closing ceremonies. Here's a link to the blog posting about my appearance at Magi-Fest earlier this year and my reconnection with Hank Moorehouse.
By now, the rain was getting a bit heavier and I was wishing I was beneath that there gazebo with the rest of Oz. Despite the rain though, everyone seemed to be enjoying the closing ceremonies, including Robert and Claire Baum, and Karen Marsh Doll (Judy Garland's stand-in during filming of the Wizard of Oz).
Roger and Charlene Baum seemed to be enjoying the rain and the good-natured ribbing of John Fricke, who was not enjoying the rain.
Finally, after some very brief remarks and thank-yous all around, John Fricke led the Munchkins (Margarette Pellegrini, Karl Slover). Munchkins-by-Marriage (Myrna Swensen, Mary Elllen St. Aubin) and the rest of the celebrates in a haunting, if somewhat rain-soaked rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Turns out John Fricke has a wonderful baritone voice. A quick dash back to the van for a change into dry clothes and I was off to the wrap-up party.
As I was one of the first to arrive, I got the wonderful honor of sitting with Rick Ewigleben, Joe Shipbaugh, Walter Krueger and a few others while we listened to Karl Slover (an original Munchkin) tell the most incredible stories. One after another, non-stop for over 90 minutes! He was like the Energizer Bunny! He kept going and going and going...
Each story was a hoot and I wished it would never end, but then everyone else showed up and the festivities of farewell began in earnest.
After a fine meal and some great conversations with the fine folks who run this great festival, they brought in a stunning cake!
Then the guests of honor, those fine people who we have all come to cherish gathered about for a great photo opportunity.
A gathering of Oz dignitaries like this may never come around again, so everyone got in the action for a photo. Looks like even the Land of Oz has its Paparazzi!!!
Afterwards, the long 3 1/2 hour drove home and I found myself inspired during the journey to write a new chapter in my newest book, The Ozian Adventure of Pickleless & Blu. I do believe the folks of Chesterton will be both amused and pleased with what I've managed to come up with.
Overall, I was very pleased with the weekend's events and my role in it. Sales were fair, due mainly to the rain and Sunday was a sad day following the news I received, but Life goes on. I was quite happy to spend some time with Roger Baum and his wife, Charlene, both of whom have warmly embraced my work and me as a person. They represent what is good and wonderful about the Land of Oz. I was also very pleased to have been stationed next to Rick Ewigleben and Joe Shipbaugh, as well as John Fricke to my north. They have always been very kind to me and I am grateful for that. They too are a credit to Oz.
To my south, fellow authors Julienne LaFleur and Michelle Russell were a joy to be around.
This was Julienne's 2nd time in Oz and I was pleased to have introduced her to the joys of Indiana Corn-on-the-Cob. It seems they don't carry that kinda food in California.
In fact, I found everyone there to be outstanding Ambassadors of Oz and I do so look forward to next year.