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Working to Make Oz-Stravaganza a Timeless Event

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Working to Make Oz-Stravaganza a Timeless Event
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For 36 years, "Wizard of Oz" fans have made a pilgrimage worthy of Dorothy and company. Oz-Stravaganza celebrates the legacy of their story and author L. Frank Baum in his hometown, Chittenango. Time Warner Cable News Reporter Sarah Blazonis shares why organizers are already looking ahead to next year's event.

CHITTENANGO, N.Y. -- No matter how many times you've seen Dorothy take those first steps on the yellow brick road, a trip to Oz-Stravaganza can surprise you.

"You do learn something every year that you do come here, and knowing that it was the grand opening of the museum, I felt that I could get a more fulfilled feeling of the Oz," said Cindy O'Brien, a "Wizard of Oz" fan from Mattydale.

Setting up the All Things Oz Museum's new location was one of the hurdles for organizers ahead of this year's event.

"At the end of March, we lost our lease. At the same time, we were given a new building to renovate. We were hoping we could do that at our leisure but that wasn't meant to be," said Oz-Stravaganza Co-Director and All Things Oz Museum President Barbara Evans.

Another was low sponsorship for this year's special guests. Part of the reason: the absence of old friends. This is the second year none of the actors who played munchkins in 1939s "The Wizard of Oz" made appearances, following the deaths of past attendees like Margaret Pellegrini, who played "Flowerpot Munchkin."

"It's been a little bit harder because everybody loved the munchkins and they love the MGM movie," said Evans.

In both cases, the community stepped forward to help, but organizers are looking ahead to new ways to bring in revenue for the future.

One change expected to help: the group recently attained 501(c)(3) status.

"We can apply for grants, so we will start to do that. We have museum membership now that we didn't have before, so you get, with different levels of donations, you will get certain things," said Evans.

It's hoped that and support from the thousands of yearly visitors help the festival live up to this year's theme: Timeless Oz.

Organizers say donors to the museum could get access to exhibits at special times or discounts in the gift shop. They may also host special events at the museum.

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