Friday, July 20, 2001

Merchant creates local 'land of Oz'


Collectors of memorabilia from "The Wizard of Oz" may be surprised to find that it's possible to collect and enjoy an ice cream cone at the same time.

The Emerald City Ice Cream store celebrated its grand opening last weekend with a visit from one of the Oz Munchkins, Mickey Carroll. The 82-year-old Carroll, a.k.a. Second Fiddler, shared trivia and interesting tidbits regarding the filming of the popular movie, his life and those of other cast members with visitors to their booth at July Jam Saturday and Sunday at the newly opened store.

Sunday, a steady crowd wandered into the Emerald City to meet Carroll and try an ice cream cone or milkshake, a cappuccino or munch on other menu items.

Emerald City owner Robert Wike plans to invite other living Munchkins to visit the shop in the future. Meinhardt Raabe, the coroner who pronounced the Wicked Witch of the West officially dead, and Jerry Maren, the Lollipop Kid, are next on Wike's list of guests.

The store is chocked full of fun items commemorating the 1939 MGM movie. Artist Shannon Lake lent his talents to the walls of the ice cream parlor. According to Munchkin Carroll, Lake did one of the best jobs of replicating the characters that he's ever seen.

Wike says he will be adding even more Wizard of Oz items and has plans to have kids' parties and book readings. Wike, who retired from the military after 23 years, did the majority of the work inside the store himself. With the exception of the electrical work and the paintings by Lake, Wike is responsible for the woodwork, the decorating and the concept. The store is one of a kind and was designed to have the feel of a 1930s ice cream shop.

Carroll was so impressed with the shop that he lent Wike his replica of Dorothy's ruby slippers to display for a few extra days. According to Carroll, the shoes are one pair of only five crafted by the company that made Dorothy's original shoes.

Emerald City is behind Captain D's, a few stores down from Baci Italian restaurant in the Main Street Market Square in Fayetteville.

Some Munchkin Trivia:

"The Wizard of Oz" was filmed in 1938, and came out to the public in 1939.

Most of the Munchkins were about 14-17 years old.

There were 124 total Munchkins that appeared in "The Wizard of Oz."

Fewer than one dozen of the original Munchkins survive.

In 1938 MGM contracted with Leo Singer to provide 124 midgets for the Wizard of Oz.

It is believed that Singer brought approximately 122 "little people" to MGM, and that others signed on later. Carroll was asked by Judy Garland to join the cast.

As there were not enough little people for the Munchkin scenes, approximately 12 children were hired to fill in.

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