LONG ISLAND CITY — We're not in Kansas anymore.
“It’s one of our biggest programs,” said Shaun Leonardo, the park's director of public programs and community relations. About 2,000 people attend the free festival each year.
This year, the festival, which will be held on Oct. 20, has a "Wizard of Oz" theme, which will be reflected in the costumes- and art-making workshops for children.
But the biggest attraction by far is the canine costume contest.
Some contestants return every year, Leonardo said, noting that one of the most memorable winners had been a bulldog dressed as a gladiator.
A panel of judges chooses the winner, tending to reward creativity and people who actually invested time and effort to make the costumes themselves, Leonardo added.
During a costume swap organized by GrowNYC, a non-profit that works on improving recycling awareness, families can exchange store-bought costumes, masks and accessories, as long as the costumes are clean and in a good shape.
“This is especially great for our neighborhood, because sometimes the families who live in the area can’t afford to get new costumes,” Leonardo said.
The scarecrows — the tallest of which is about 15 feet — are meant to protect the creative spirit of the park but also to capture the essence of creative people who lived and worked in Queens, including Joseph Cornell and Ella Fitzgerald.
There will also be "transformation face painting" with Agostino Arts, a concert by a LIC-based band Le Nozze Di Carlo who will play songs from the “Wizard of Oz” soundtrack, dance, and harvest food from local restaurants, that will be for sale.