Minnesota 'Oz' festival goes for world record

Ominous clouds over the festival
On a sign for the Judy Garland Museum, the Wizard of Oz' Dorothy appears to be pointing to the arrival of ominous evening clouds while the Wizard of Oz plays in the adjacent Evergreen Terrace lawn Friday, June 13, 2014 during the Judy Garland Festival in Grand Rapids, Minn.
Derek Montgomery / For MPR News

There were a lot of lion suits, people wearing tin hats and ruby slippers in Grand Rapids on Friday.

Organizers of the annual Judy Garland festival hope there are so many people in "Wizard of Oz" costumes that the judges from the Guinness Book of World Records take notice.

Photos: Wizard of Oz festival

Seventy-five years ago "The Wizard of Oz" hit the big screen, propelling Grand Rapids native Francis Ethel Gumm into childhood stardom as Judy Garland. The movie included the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and the 16-year-old's version became a classic.

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This week, the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids is celebrating the film's big anniversary with a slew of events.

There's karaoke, of course, a parade and even a dog show, for those small, black pups that are Toto look-alikes. The biggest event was set for Friday, event planner Melanie Jacobson said. Jacobson hoped 800 other Oz fans would make a run at the Guinness Book record for largest number of costumed Wizard of Oz characters in one place at one time.

The current record is held by an elementary school in England, where 446 people dressed as Wizard of Oz characters in 2010, according to Guinness World Records.

Jacobson is confident that the celebration in Grand Rapids will have plenty of people willing to don the costumes. The real trick is satisfying all the details.

"There's a 40-page book of rules we need to follow," she said, "and we have to bring in Guinness auditors from out of town."

After the record attempt at 5:30 p.m., a 9 p.m. showing of the 1939 Wizard of Oz film is scheduled for a massive outdoor screen set up on the Evergreen Terrace lawn, next to the museum in downtown Grand Rapids.

For a full list of events visit: www.judygarlandmuseum.com.