Chippewa Lake: A Baby Boomer’s Paradise

February 23, 2008




Back in the 1960s and 1970s when I was growing up there was a spring/summer tradition that brought a gathering of the tribes, if you will, to a place called Chippewa Lake Amusement Park located in Chippewa Lake, Ohio. A well known and impressive amusement park that began life in 1878, by the time the swinging 60’s arrived there was an annual ‘Fan Appreciation Day’ that was at first hosted and sponsored by the famed WIXY 1260 AM radio station and then later hosted by WHLO 640 AM radio and each station brought in some of the biggest names in rock n roll for performances.


My first visit there was in the mid-1960’s sometime when I was staying with an aunt and uncle for several weeks. One day we went to Chippewa Lake Amusement Park to drop my cousin and her friend off and decided to stay awhile. While I was fairly young I remember having a lot of fun on the rides, eating the good food and checking out the lake and then I heard the music! I know that song! From the spacious ballroom came the thundering and melodic sounds of Tommy James & The Shondells!






 Throughout the 60’s annually top bands would come in to Chippewa Lake when that appreciation day was first known as the Galaxy of Stars Teen Fair. During the 60’s those lucky enough to attend could see, among the top local and regional bands, such national acts as the aforementioned Tommy James and The Shondells, the Outsiders, Music Explosion, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Neil Diamond, Left Banke, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Chylds and many, many others. Cost? Anywhere from 50 cents to a buck and a half would get you in for a full day of music and fun.


 Somewhere around 1970 I returned with my pals and made it an annual trek during the 70’s. In fact, it often seemed the entire town of Orrville would show up among the thousands of others from the neighboring towns and cities. My first time back there as a teenager was to see Alice Cooper and in the ensuing years bands and performers such as Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, Glass Harp and many others made their way to Chippewa Lake Park. 


One of my fondest memories attending WHLO Fan Appreciation Day came in 1973 when a large caravan of cars left Orrville and headed about 20 minutes north to Chippewa Lake Amusement Park. It was a hot, sunny day, perfect weather, probably a dozen cars and vans from Orrville packed with people parked together and I had a very special young lady with me that day named Lauren, a beautiful, beautiful, classy young lady who made the day special. She was better than I deserved.




The radio station also had several promotions going and the one I remember each year was when they would drop probably hundreds of ping pong balls with prizes on them, usually a 45 record of which I won several. Each time I attended, with a sweltering mass of thousands of people, was a positive experience. How could a teenager go wrong with beautiful weather, a first class amusement park, terrific food, a friendly staff, some of the best rock n roll music and thousands of pretty girls everywhere you looked?  


Alas, Chippewa Lake Amusement Park is no longer in existence. After 100 years the park shut down in 1978 and has been idle since then. Unfortunately, the ornate ballroom was victimized on June 13, 2002 when vandals set fire to it. But when it was alive and well, it was booming and thriving and a wonderful place for baby-boomers to create memories. And I have plenty! 


For more on Chippewa Lake Amusement Park visit: Chippewa Lake There is also an active & passionate Yahoo Group devoted to Chippewa Lake Amusement Park: Chippewa Lake Yahoo Group


Contact Doc at: DocLehman99@gmail.com



  1. Thanks for sharing your memories, I also spent every summer at Chippewa, as a child with my family attending company picnics for B & W in Barberton, and then as a young teenager with my Jr. high school and high school friends (Goodrich Jr. High and Central-Hower High in Akron) for WHLO appreciation day.What a great time and the memories still live on……..I just took a trip out to see the remains yesterday, April 26th, Bittersweet, smiles and tears at the same time……..took a lot of photos, only wish I had taken some ‘back in the day’ when it was swarmed with people and music and fun………..thanks, again,

  2. Chippewa Lake Park was where WJW-TV8 would have their summer company outing and many of the celebrities (and their families) from that station could be seen there, one of whom was my father.

    Compared to some other parks (e.g. Geauga Lake (RIP, alas), Cedar Point), CLP was kinda rinky-dink, but was still a place where a kid could have a great time. It is so sad to see the remains of what was a fun place to spend a summer afternoon.

    • Are you BOB WELLS son?? If so, THANKS for sharing you dad with the rest of us for so many years. I live in Chippewa Lake & have since the ’50s. What a great place to grow up too. I remember seeing all the “stars”, musical & TV while growing up there. What a wonderful time to be a kid.

  3. Hi Doc,
    I guess we have some of the same memories. You see I was the lead guitar player for the Chylds and have fond memories of this place. I went back last year and got really bummed out about what was left. This was one of our most fun gigs.
    Hope you are well.
    Thanks for the site and sharing

  4. I was just sitting her reminiscing about Chippewa Lake and WHLO after receiving a gift from a long-time friend that I grew up with. It was a cd of WHLO back in 1963 that he had recorded. Chippewa was the first thing that I remembered about the station. We both became huge fans of WIXY 1260 a few years later. My sister and brother-in-law worked at Chippewa in the summer of 68 and 69 working the game stands for some extra cash to supplement their incomes.

    I believe the gentleman who they worked for was named Stoney and his wife was Faye. I use to hang out there with my sister and brother-in-law and also use to attend the Teamster picnics there. I had a crazy cousin who I hung out with there who would jump in with the prettiest girl he could find on the roller coaster. Ah, such great memories! Thanks for sharing this blog. Gary

  5. I was so suprised when my wife said come and look at this and I seen this write up on Chippewa Lake. I have so many memories of this park and what shocks me the most (other than me having any memories is that any one has memories of this park.) Due to chemical intakes that was so very popular at that time – if you know what I am saying. If by chance you was there at that time and you do know what I am saying.. congratulations on still being alive and well. Who would had ever guessed we would had lived thru that great experience and this many years later. My story starts a bit later than the ones i read earlier – mine starts about the time of Mahogany Rush – Michael Quartro- UFO (all shaved bald and painted silver). I am sure there is someone that remembers these shows. If so rock hard – rock loud- and for god sake dont ever trust anybody over 30 (LOL)

    • Rik,

      • Rik,
        I was at that very show!!! Ya UFO was ALL silver, Michael Quarro came out playing a electric violin, OH YA!!!! I was looking at thing,s threw a WINDOW PANE that day ( If ya know what I mean.
        KEEP ROCKIN my brother!!! You MIGHT want to look for a new C-D by ( Rik Neal & The Conspiracy ) or go to Rik Neal & The Conspiracy @FACEBOOK or MYSPACE.ROCK ON !!!!!

  6. I roadied for the Saxons who played the ’66 Teen Fair out there. Our manager, Tony Stabile, had rented the cabin right behind the ballroom.
    We got to see Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels bring down the house with a hot set that included a version of Dionne Warwick’s “Walk On By.”

    Saturday morning (and all hung over) we were sitting in the screened in front porch and heard a band in the ballroom doing a sound check that included a perfect version of the Beatles’ “If I Needed Someone To Love.”
    The two guitarists, drummer and I climbed the hill and walked in to see the rest of the sound check. “Who are you guys?” “We’re the Saxons, we’re playing on the outdoor stage later this afternoon.” “Cool. We’re the Measles from Kent.” Lead guitar…..Joe Walsh. Only time I ever crossed paths with him.

    A wild, strange and wonderful week-end to say the least.

  7. good old chippewa lake park.i spent many summer days there from 1960 to 1975 with my dad’s company picnic.he worked at Ohio Boxboard in Rittman.we also went to chipp park when relatives came from out of town to visit.i had so much fun at the park.i also remember WHLO days at the park.i remember one day that they dropped the ping pong balls and many of them fell inside the rides.people were trying to get them while the rides were moving and the people operating the rides shut them down untill all balls were found.i;m sure that did not set very well with the managment at that time.the park was always so nice and clean,always painted bright colors and very well landscaped.my favorite rides were the coaster,the bug,and the rocket ship ride.nothing cooled you off on a hot day better than a ride on the rockets. it was a fun,frendly,family place. i also remember loving the show at Jungle Larry’s safari adventure. he used to pay me and my friends a nickle for any big turtles i found by the lake and took to him.Safari Jane was a nice lady.the most fun was going on a ride on the speed boat Dynamite !!! it was a long wooden sleek boat with a big chrysler v -8 motor. those days are gone and i have been back to the park to take pictures and i too had tears and smiles while remembering the great days at CLP.

  8. I was at the park for the WHLO Appreciation Day in 1972. Help me here but I think I saw UFO and Lee Michaels but I don’t know who else. Can anyone remember that years line up

  9. CHIPPEWA LAKE PARK has been cleared out except for the rides and the buildings that have not fallen.it is a sight to see if you get a chance.it will all be gone very soon 😦 you can see all the way to the lake from the old parking lot. there are even some of the old bug ride cars still setting on the track !!! last chance for great pics of the wonderful place we all loved as kids and teenagers. CLP 1878 – 1978 RIP

  10. last chance to see good old CLP is next saturday april 18th from 12 to 5 !!! ( weather permitting ) bring your camera and your memories with you ! you will be able to go inside the park for pictures and a tour. the old museum will also be open at the park entrance.i was there this past weekend and it was very cool to roam the grounds again…but also very sad because of what little is left.as per the security guard on duty…the bug ride and the ferris wheel will be saved and moved across the lake and reassembled as a permanent memorial to the park. CLP 1878-1978 RIP

  11. Just wondering if anyone has ever heard of where Uncle Joe Cunningham of WHLO ended up? I’m actually trying to get in contact with his son Joe Jr. aka Joey. I lived around the corner from him in Fairlawn, OH and was friends with him. I moved away in 1978, saw them once after when they stopped by to see me in Atlanta, GA. If anyone has info please email Keith at kwhitmore77@aol.com. Thanks!

  12. CHIPPEWA LAKE PARK is open again this saturday for tours. i think from noon till 5 pm.also the CLP YAHOO group will be having the yearly meeting this saturday from 3 to 6 pm at the VILLAGE INN bar in Chippewa Lake. everyone is welcome to join.there will be about 15 to 20 people there from the group and everyone brings pictures and memories.it is a good time for all CLP fans.

  13. So glad to know there are people out there who remember this park. I attended several WHLO appreciation days in the seventies. Of course it’s a bit of a blur now, hard to distinguish one year from another, but here are some of the bands I recall seeing: Ensign Bunch, Glass Harp, Change (or maybe it was Changes)…currently Jimmy and the Soul Blazers, Alice Cooper, (performed solo, the rest of the band did not show up, banged two hammers together to BLack Juju playing on the PA system, blew feathers all over the ballroom, strictly vaudeville), Mahogany Rush, UFO, Lee Michaels, Chilliwack, Michael Quatro, The Dead Boys, Rubber City Rebels, and Trapeze. Always a great time, one of my favorite parks, I am so sorry that it’s gone, unforgetable…

  14. I didn’t realize how many people have memories about this place. We went there as children for many summers in a row. Chippewa is, very simply, an unforgettable place.

    WHLO was THE radio station to listen to, also.

    Thanks for the memories.

  15. I was at the WIXY appreciation day when the Bob Seger System pic was taken. Pretty sure it was 1968. There were 6 bands for 2 bucks… Tommy James & The Shondells, Neil Diamond, Kenny Rogers & The 1st Edition, Bob Seger System…anyone else remeber the other 2 bands that I cannot remember ???

  16. I grew up going to WHLO Appreciation Day at Chippewa. It was like our mini Woodstock! So, what a thrill for me to get to work on the air at WHLO when I was 19. There I was, in the hellicopter, looking down on where I had been as a kid … at the thousands looking up for the annual ping pong ball drop. Grab the right ball and win a prize! My job was to release a trashbag full of ping pong balls over the park. Simple, right? Well, in my personal Les Nessman moment, I let ’em go – Straight into the lake! I can still see kids ripping off their shirts and swimming out after those balls, hoping to win something great, like … $3 at Lawsons, or a Glass Harp 45rpm! Sorry kids, I was nervous.
    OK…everybody remember the jingle now…(Steady Indian Drums…Tum Tum Tum Tum…Tum Tum Tum Tum … Chip-a-waaa Lake Parrrrrk.”

  17. I was searching for the group Ensign Bunch and could not believe I would find anything. All our high school summers were spent at Chippewa Lake. In 1971 I was working in Kent at a bar where the Ensign Bunch played and I dated the bassist. In fact, the entire band use to come to my hometown Massillon to party. Wow, almost 40 years ago. Sure brings back memories. Chippewa was a “first love” must!

  18. this Saturday may 15th ,2010 ;could very well be your last chance ever to walk the grounds of good old CLP. the tour is from 10;30 am till 5 pm as per sign on the gate last weekend. the Chippewa Landing project is scheduled to begin construction at the old park this summer as i saw in today’s Wayne county issue of the Post newspapers. i hope they can save the Bug ride ( still in tact with cars on the track ) and ferris wheel and move it across the lake as a static memorial to the park. i sure would hate to see it sold as scrap metal ! CLP…. 100 YEARS OF MEMORIES ! RIP !

  19. Won’t make it out there May 15, so hope everyone gets to take a lot of pictures.

    My two friends and I did last time there was an open house, so enjoy the day.

  20. had cottage from 1954-1979

    first cottege on the left next to main gate
    I would sleep on the porch
    and liston to the music from
    the ballroom
    enjoyed walking around
    the cotteges late at night

  21. another tour ? there is a sign on the gate to CLP…SAYING THERE WILL BE A TOUR THIS SATURDAY ..THE 19TH ? sad to tell you all …they have taken down the coaster and stand “A”. ..also the remains of the lower level of the hotel. the only thing left to see is the ferris wheel ,the bug ride , and the entrance gate / ticket area . they have the big gear drive from the coaster sitting just out side the gate in a yard. i see the chain from the coaster is piled up along the fence just inside to the left of the gate. i was lucky enough to get 1/2 of a picnic table from stand “a” ( YELLOW AND GREEN ) and some boards from the coaster . CLP…gone but not forgotten ! RIP !

  22. Oh how I remember WHLO appreciation day. We used to go up the night before and have a very good time. Infact, a few car loads of us went and didn’t know it had been closed (was always the first Saturday in May) and camped out anyway.
    I remember people throwing albums like frisbees off of those smaller outside stages, the ping pong ball drops (was probably where those album frisbees came from) Remember getting “stalked” by an old boyfriend and some other friends jumped him. Remember thumbing a ride up and got in a van full of crazy people…and getting a ride back with crazier people. Didn’t UFO come out in theis giant bubble???
    Back then you could get away with anything and having a great time. Wonder any of us are still alive….if ya know what I mean….

  23. […] (excellent drawing of The Coaster) Historic Pictures at Internet Archive Rollercoaster Database Chippewa Lake: A Baby Boomer’s Paradise And finally, for you heartless commercial types: Chippewa […]

  24. I saw an article yesterday on The Dead Boys in the Scene which brought me back to 76 when I saw them there, along with the Rubber City Rebels, Chilliwack and Mahogany Rush. What a great day. The girl I went with died a few months back; (R.I.P. Cath). Anyway, found your site. Thanks for taking me back. Too bad there isn’t more on the web.

  25. FYI- the Chippewa Lake Park yahoo group will have their yearly meeting this Saturday June 9th at the Village Bar in Chippewa Lake, Oh. it is open to the public so bring any memories and pictures with you and join us from 3 till 6.

  26. My father grew up inside the park. Their house was right across from the Cages and the the grandstand field. I remember most of these events but was too young to enjoy some of them. My grandparents owned several concessions in the park including the cotton candy stand, the high striker, and the Velveton Photo. WHLO Day was a very big day for the family, and even at 8 years old, I was put to work bagging cotton candy. I have every fond memories of the park, I always got passes for all of the rides, and I can honestly say that it was the only roller coaster I’ve been on. It scared me to death! What a GREAT site to bring back all of those memories. We still have one of the cotton candy machines and make cotton candy about twice a year for various functions.

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