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May 3, 2013

No, Dorothy, you're not in Kansas

On Sunday, there will be no place like Haverhill's KidsFEST

HAVERHILL — This isn’t Kansas, Dorothy. You’re far from it. But, as locals like to say during KidsFEST, there’s no place like Haverhill to call home.

Thousands of people from Haverhill and neighboring communities are expected to pack the upper level of the Merrimack Street parking deck Sunday for the city’s annual festival for children.

With this year’s “Wizard of Oz’’ theme, costumed actors will perform the roles of the beloved story’s characters.

The event will also feature an appearance by the story’s central character, Dorothy. No, she won’t be dropping in via tornado. She’ll be here at the invitation of KidsFEST organizers.

She is Elaine Horn, an actress with a strong resemblance to Dorothy. Horn makes appearances as Dorothy across the country.

Besides the festival’s traditional children’s games and other activities, the event will feature items such as locally-made ruby red slippers made by a KidsFEST organizer. It is an appropriate touch, given Haverhill’s heritage as an international leader in the making of women’s shoes. In fact, because of that success Haverhill was once known as the “Queen Slipper City.’’

“This is one of the premier downtown events and the chamber is really pleased to be the producer of the event,’’ said Sven Amirian, president of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce.

“It is the beginning of the outdoor festival series,’’ he said of popular Haverhill events that happen annually during the spring, summer and fall. “People really look forward to it.’’

Amirian said organizers expect 4,000 to 5,000 people to visit the festival during its hours of 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

He said the decision to use the Oz theme will be “especially exciting, bring another level of enthusiasm to the event.’’

Besides Dorothy and other characters from “The Wizard of Oz,’’ the festival will have a yellow brick road leading children through the festival vendors and performers, eventually winding up at the main stage, said Jen Cantwell, vice president of the chamber.

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