In September of 2017, I paid a visit to a place I had not seen since I was about six years old…the Land of Oz. I remember bits and pieces of the trip. My parents took me in 1972 and two of my strongest memories are of riding on the balloon ride (a converted ski-lift) in a blinding mountain rainstorm and the wet ride in a bus, with no windows, down the mountain, leaving. For years, I wondered what had become of that park.
Originally opening on June 15, 1970, it was a grand place to visit and managed to stay open for a decade, even after a fire in 1975, before falling into disrepair and abandonment. Many things were stolen, vandalized or left to nature.
Appalachian State University had a cultural museum, at one time, that showcased saved pieces from the park including the yellow bricks, some munchkin houses, costumes, parts of the witch’s castle and other assorted props. All artifacts were eventually returned to the park.
In 1991, the park was included in a celebration for Independence Day for Beech Mountain. Watauga High School students dressed in costume. Emerald Mountain, Inc., purchased the property in 1994 and a slow restoration began. An “Autumn at Oz” was started as a reunion for former employees and became a yearly event. By 2010, the park drew 8,000 people.
Land of Oz (Official Website)
“Too young to know, too old to listen…”
Saturday evening’s playlist submission is Early Warning by Australian band Baby Animals. The second track from their debut album Baby Animals, it was released on April 21, 1991, as their debut single. Written by Suze DeMarchi, Dave Leslie and Eddie Parise, the song was nominated for Single of the Year and Song of the Year in 1992 by the Australian Recording Industry Association. The album was awarded Album of the Year at The Arias Awards.
I discovered this band when their third track Painless was released in the US in November 1991. Suze’s voice is stunning and powerful and, her band is as hard rocking as any from Downunder. I bought the CD and there’s not a bad song on it. It deserved Album of the Year. They broke up in 1996 but, reformed in 2007. They continue to perform and record.
Baby Animals Channel From 1992
MTV’s Video From 1991