One of the more notable public parks in the Chicago area is Oz Park. Oz Park is named for Lyman Frank Baum, a children's author and creator of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" who was a Chicago resident in the 1890s.

As the 13-acre park has evolved over the years it has taken on a Wizard of Oz theme to honor Baum and thrill generations of Wizard of Oz fans. It all started with fans celebrating the book, movie, and its famous author by holding an Oz Festival in the park every year. Eventually, the park was named Oz Park by the Chicago Park District, and the park's advisory council raised money to put sculptures of the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Dorothy, and Toto in the park.

The theme took off from there. To go with the park's theme, the park's garden is named The Emerald Garden and the playground is called Dorothy's Playlot. Additionally, the park contains basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts along with a biking and walking trail that's a little more than a half mile long.

As the park updates this spring, they will add a life-size face wall. It's renderings of Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion with cutouts so visitors can take photos of themselves as the movie characters.

They're also re-doing Dorothy's Playlot. Much of the original playlot contained wood structures, that at this point are starting to rot. Plans for the new playground have been in the works for three years, and the same company that designed the original playlot will build the new one, which will be similar to the original with modern upgrades such as bouncy bridges, twisty slides, a rock climbing wall, and other attractions, according to Block Club Chicago.

There's another problem, one of the largest rat beds in Chicago is under Dorothy's playlot. As construction commences on rebuilding Dorothy's playlot construction crews first will be ridding the park of its rodents. I'm not sure anyone who enjoys hanging out at the park has a problem with that.

The Oz Park Advisory Council President told Block Club Chicago they expect Oz Park improvements to be complete by July.

If you'd like to visit Oz Park on your next trip to Chicago, the park is located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on the north side of the City. Its address is 2021 North Burling Street, at the corner of Lincoln and Webster Avenues, just south of the Lincoln, Halsted, and Fullerton intersection. You can learn more about the park on the Chicago Park District website.

I promise the rats won't bother you either. Unless you find yourself in one of Chicago's alleys at 3:00 AM. Then you're on your own.

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