It is our anniversary, and Rooster asked me what I wanted to do. For my answer, I requested an adventure trip to Holland, Michigan. I had no idea we would discover Centennial Park and the Wizard of OZ there.
Holland, Michigan, is one of our favorite adventure destinations. Rooster and I have visited this community on the shore of Lake Michigan several times. The city, founded by Dutch settlers, hosts a tulip festival every spring. There is a unique Dutch windmill, a Dutch village, and numerous antique stores throughout the town. It’s not uncommon to come across Dutch dancers dressed in traditional costumes and wooden shoes
One of our favorite spots in the city of Holland is the downtown area because it is filled with quaint shops, restaurants, beautiful potted plants, sculptures, and ice cream. It is the perfect place to take an evening stroll.
If a person was so inclined, they could purchase a coo-coo clock, a beer stein, or a Christmas present in July. Therefore the first place Rooster and I headed for after we checked into our room was downtown Holland.
We’ve never ventured past the ice cream store next to the music sculpture on our past visits. When finished walking through downtown Holland when I noticed a park two blocks off in the distance. Rooster and I decided to explore the area further, and we were glad we did. We climbed in our Chevy Spark and drove to 250 Central Avenue and arrived at Centennial Park.
The first thing we noticed the bandstand when we entered the park, but since we are in the middle of COVID-19 no music played on this warm summer evening. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine a band taking center stage and playing their songs for a crowd of people
The 20-foot rock fountain
The 20-foot rock fountain, donated by Tenuis TenHouten and designed by Johannes Van Lente in 1902, captured our attention. The fountain sprayed water into the sky. Surrounding the fixture was a garden of flowers and plants. Rooster and I spent a considerable amount of time admiring the fountain.
When finished watching the fountain, and then we walked to the Koi pond. I ventured to the statue of Alberto VanRaalte, one of the early Dutch settlers. There is also a memorial honoring veterans in Centennial Park.
A little Centennial Park History
Originally, this space in the heart of Holland was the village market. In 1876 it became a city park. There was once a jail located in the northwest corner where rowdy merrymakers could stay until they got sober. This early form of the modern drunk tank disappeared from the park long ago. From its beginning, Centennial Park has been the center of many events in the community. It is not surprising a lot of the activities in Holland’s famous Tulip Time Festival take place here.
Centennial Park and The Wizard of Oz
The tiny park saved its best feature for last. The flora living mosaic book dedicated to The Wonderful Wizard of OZ amazed Rooster and I when we saw it. I glanced across the street in the direction of the Herrick District Library. We decided to cross River Avenue to get a better look at the bronze sculptures. Once we got up close, Rooster and I could see they were characters from The Wonderful Wizard of OZ, standing in front of a fair representation of a yellow brick road.
Connection with The Wonderful Wizard of OZ
A plaque informed us about the history of the connection, L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wonderful Wizard of OZ, had with Holland, Michigan, during the creation of the books. He and his family spent summers in a cabin on Lake Macatawa close to downtown Holland. The cottage where the family vacationed, The Sign of the Goose, became the place where he wrote portions of The Wonderful Wizard of OZ.
In the late 1800s, Baum wrote two children’s books. Mother Goose in Prose received moderate success. His second book, entitled Father Goose, His Book, earned him the title of Macatawa Goose Man.
While creating the later book of poems, he worked with W.W. Derslow, who made the artists renderings used in the book The Wonderful Wizard of OZ. Baum and Derslow later parted ways over a disagreement concerning royalties. The inspiration for the copper sculptures are Derslow’s original renderings. They stand on display outside the library.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a permanent fixture in Holland, therefore you should take a look at it if you are visiting the area. They plan to take the flora living mosaic book down and store it in the city greenhouse over the winter. A trip to the Tulip Time Festival next year sounds like a good idea if Covid-19 isn’t still preventing us from attending celebrations. It’s an adventure Rooster and I have always wanted to do. We have always wanted to see the city of Holland filled with thousands of tulips. The spring flower is a big deal in this tiny city.
Who is Molly Shea?
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana, who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures click here.
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“Sometimes, all a broody hen needs is a good adventure to get her out of her glum mood.” Rhody Norris, author of Aunt Rhody’s Handbook on Chicken Farming.