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Twister, monkeys join other Oz creatures on roof

Reliable Sheet Metal has everyone but the good witch in rooftop display

Posted: Thursday, August 09, 2001

The quirky Wizard of Oz display that is the specialty of Reliable Sheet Metal is growing rivet by rivet.

The big green head of the Wizard, Dorothy and her dog Toto, the Wicked Witch of the West, and the Cowardly Lion were recently flanked by a house caught in the vortex of a tornado, and two flying monkeys. The latest additions were lifted into place about two weeks ago, said Reliable's manager, Gary Baxter.

Reliable Sheet Metal, at 5441 Glacier Highway, is owned by John Schoenmann and considered a division of Jack's Plumbing and Heating.

But it is Baxter who is responsible for the amusing menagerie on the roof of Glacier Second Hand Store, a building also owned by Schoenmann, next door at 5445 Glacier Hwy.

The Wizard joined the group about a year ago, and is so big and bright that it can be seen even from the air. All the creations are based on the works of L. Frank Baum, whose 1900 children's novel, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" was made into a popular movie in 1938.

"It started way back when, about 25 years ago," Baxter said. "The first one was the Tin Man - which is the Scarecrow now. Everything is made by the guys in the shop, Chris Miller and Scott Stevens."

The figures are created when the shop has slow times, he said. "It keeps the guys busy dinging around. The Twister took three or four months," he said.

"It was just something I wanted to do. We've got everybody except the Good Witch up there now."

The figures are built to various scales. The Twister is 17 feet high including the house suspended in the winds.

"Tyler Rentals donated a boom truck and we got it up there. It has a light in it that goes on at night and rotates," Baxter said. He intends to add a second rotating white light for an even better storm effect.

Does the unusual display help the fabrication and ventilating business?

"I don't know if it does, but it's a good advertisement if people notice it and comment on it. People always come in and say they like it," Baxter said.

Kathy Buss, membership and program director of the Tongass Alaska Girl Scout Council, appreciates the drawing power of the thematic display - which is taking on the unique local status of something like a hot dog stand shaped like a hot dog.

"Even if I don't get guests out to the Mendenhall Glacier, I take them to see that," she said.

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at achandonnet@juneauempire.com.



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