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Couple begins life’s journey together in the Land of Oz PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 15 July 2017 09:20


Proposal takes place over the rainbow

• story and photos by ELLY GRIMM

The Land of Oz is a very magical place, and for one lucky couple recently, the visit to Liberal’s unique attraction started what they hope to be a lifelong journey down the Yellow Brick Road. 

Anthony Padilla and Laura Wright, who met just a little more than four years ago, recently paid a visit to the Land of Oz/Dorothy’s House in Liberal. As Padilla tells the story of their first meeting, everything changed the evening they met. 

“I actually, at that time, had my own show at what used to be the Hilton, and she came in with a musical theater production called ‘The D* Word,’ and Rich Little was the time slot before me for the longest time, and he left,” Padilla said. “So they came in with that, and that was it. They had the time slot right before me and it was their opening night. I worked with Louie Anderson, and his opening night was that same night at the Plaza Hotel. I went from his show over to mine and walked in to see the end of theirs and Laura just happened to be onstage singing, and it was that moment I knew something was different about her, something was different about life.”

“I eventually went and saw his show, and who is onstage and who he is off-stage are two different people,” Wright added. “I love and adore both of them, he’s the most incredible man and most thoughtful person I’ve ever met in my life.”

The couple started dating not too long after that fateful evening, and last Monday, Padilla popped the question to Wright in the Land of Oz after going on a special tour guided by Dorothy and a few witnesses, including their dog, Deja. With Wright’s favorite movie being “The Wizard of Oz” and Judy Garland being among Wright’s influences in her performing career, Padilla said in the end, The Land of Oz was the perfect spot to propose.  alt

After a bit of planning, of course. 

“I’m a very detailed person, so this has been in the works for a little more than a year, because I knew I wanted to do it on the day we met, but obviously that only happens once a year,” Padilla said with a chuckle. “And I couldn’t do it last year because it was too soon for me to get everything together, it took a long time. I went to college in Dodge City, so being from Albuquerque, I made that drive all the time and drove by Dorothy’s House. But I never stopped because I had school and it was something I figured I could visit in the future. Then, when I met her, her favorite movie is ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ her favorite song is ‘Over the Rainbow,’ and her favorite actress is Judy Garland, so I knew, without talking about it, this was going to be a place she would want to visit. Then, once I did tell her about it, she wanted to come, and then I thought there was no better place than somewhere I’d always wanted to see, part of my past being connected with Dodge City, and then being able to propose in the most important place I felt she would want to be, that was amazing.”

So the trip began in the planning stages, with Padilla working hard to keep the plan a secret from his new bride-to-be. 

“I told her about six months ago we were going take a trip – our schedules are both so busy – so I knew as the year went on I wouldn’t be able to just say ‘Hey, let’s go on a trip,’ because then she would have been wondering why I was pushing it,” Padilla said. “So I planted the idea about six months ago, suggested we clear our schedules for around this time. Actually, the best part was I was the only one who fully knew we were going to be coming here, I was pretending I wasn’t sure what we would be doing. Then one night she said ‘What about Dorothy’s House in North Carolina?’ but I’m not visiting North Carolina in July, so I suggested Dorothy’s House here in Liberal because I knew she wanted to see it and also visit Dodge City and the school I went to there. Everything ended up being part of the plan.”

And the Land of Oz indeed proved the perfect setting, according to Wright, with “The Wizard of Oz” film being a long-time love. 

“We actually drove about last  Thursday, we were driving by while it wasn’t open, and he pulled in to this little area, and I basically immediately started crying and it just hit me hard,” Wright said. “It makes me think of my career, my childhood, my family, it hit me. And this is such an awesome place, they all do an amazing job here. It’s perfect.”

As for the big moment, both Wright and Padilla said it was like they were both temporarily in a different universe. 

“Honestly, I’m trying to think about it all even now. It almost felt like we were on a movie set because of where we’re at, and everything.” Wright said shorty afterward. “Everything was perfect, and right now, I’m struggling to find words, you’d have to ask me later since I’m still almost in shock. It was almost like being on a movie set but it was real life and then it was a weird feeling that it was actually happening.”

“I’ve been so excited to do this, it’s like performance anxiety. I’ve been ready to do it, but because there was so much planning involved, that’s what makes it stressful,” Padilla added. “But being here on the trip and everything, I was so excited to ask, and I’ve only been able to tell less than a handful of people, and not even friends and family because I didn’t want anyone to blow it. I was just so excited to propose to Laura. It wasn’t a situation where I had to, or because we’ve been together as long as we have, I was just excited to ask her. And in that moment, I wasn’t sure what all I’d be able to say, but it meant so much and was so exciting.”

And with The Land of Oz now being a very special place to the lucky couple, both agreed they would love to come back again. Both also expressed thanks to the Land of Oz/Dorothy’s House for their help with Padilla’s plan. 

“Well I’ll be needing to come back because I didn’t hear a word of the tour or anything, I was just thinking about what all was going on. So at some point, I would like to see the full tour,” Padilla said with a laugh. “It was awesome, everything about this place far exceeded my expectations, it was beyond everything I thought it would be. Dorothy was fantastic, and it was just all so fun, this is a great place.”




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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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