Last-Minute Casting Saves Great Pumpkin Walk for Local Inn
This year, for the 11th time, The Wild Goose Inn transformed Albert Street into The Emerald City from the Land of Oz for East Lansing’s annual Pumpkin Walk.
Children of all ages traded East Lansing for the Land of Oz as they traveled down the yellow brick road on Albert Street.
Braving the fall breeze, they removed chilly hands from warm pockets to feed animals and meet the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and Dorothy. They concluded their journey with a scolding from the Wicked Witch of the West, friendly greetings from Glinda and a final farewell from the Wizard himself.
Preparations for Wild Goose’s Oz begin early, including reaching out to as many people as possible to help with puppeteering and creating the scenery.
According to Paul Martin, manager of Wild Goose Inn, their biggest struggle is rounding up enough volunteers for characters. In previous years, East Lansing High School theater students fulfilled this role. The past two years, however, ELHS students did not participate, requiring a little more work and creativity to find willing thespians.
The Inn staff eventually filled each role, except for the two witches.
That is, until Al Bay, Wild Goose owner, heard Inn guest Kim Berkal laugh and knew immediately it was the laugh of the Wicked Witch of the West.
Berkal willingly agreed to help. Conveniently, her best friend who was with her at the time, agreed to play Glinda. And thus, the cast was complete.
The roles came naturally for the two, although they’d never acted together. “We have been best friends for 24 years,” Berkal said. “Sometimes I feel like Lucy and Ethel with her.”
“My highlight of the night was seeing the kids’ mouths drop open as they saw us on the roof,” Berkal said.
Martin shared Berkal’s sentiments. “I love seeing the little kids,” he said. “Seeing them enjoy themselves -- they have such a big imagination and think this is all real.”
The night was not only a success for the volunteers and staff, but also for those who attended.
“My daughter loves the Wizard of Oz,” Christina Ebmeyei said. “We love seeing all the costumes and children having fun.”