In 1932, Wilfred and Ella Wiegand operated a small grocery store at Wade Park Avenue and E. 82nd St. in Cleveland, Ohio. Wanting a place for their 16 brothers and sisters,
and their own children, to getout of the city and into the healthy
countryside, they began looking for rural property with a stream
running through it. They found an abandoned farm which had
been repossessed by a failing bank. The depression was still in full
swing, so the land was relatively cheap.
The Wiegands were one of 12 families to bring a line of electricity
out from Cleveland on State Route 87. The lake was made by
digging out around the narrow stream, with draft horses and
dump wagons and considerable manual labor. That labor was
provided by family, friends and grocery store customers who also
helped clean up the property, trading in their labor for food or credit at the store. Money was tight, frugality was the order of the day. As the lake filled, and the derelict buildings were torn down, some people began to drive out to the park on Sunday afternoons, not to work, but for pleasure. Ella's goodwill pots of chili, or canned ham sandwiches, originally intended to feed the workers, began to be stretched too far, and thus came the beginning
of the private park, and later, the catering business. They begin to charge admission ---25 cents per carload! And the first group picnic was - who else? The Grocers' Association!
Wilfred and Ella floated a hefty loan, in
addition to using almost all of their
savings, to build the dance hall. They
lived in Lyndhurst during the winter,
and built a small cottage at the park
for their summer residence. From
spring thaw to first snow, they
operated what is now known as
Making Memories at Wiegand Lake Park.
In 1962, the next generation, Robert Wiegand and his dear wife Bianca, assumed
responsibility for the park when Wilfred died. They were graduates of Case
Western Reserve University, Robert in business and accounting and Bianca in
biology and premed. With three young children to provide for, equity came in the
form of long days of hard work for all. They made substantial improvements to the
physical property and expanded the services and menus offered to the groups that came. Robert, a landscape enthusiast, begin to bring home truckloads of trees and shrubs from auctions at local nurseries. The park filled with rhododendron, hydrangeas, azaleas, mountain laurels, blueberry bushes, maple trees, spruce trees, and dozens of other trees, shrubs, and flowers that flourish in this climate. Most of what he planted may still be enjoyed to this day!
The Wiegands believed that their business should reflect their values. Seeing many local teens with few employment opportunities, they begin to hire local youths. As the years passed, one of their greatest joys and contributions to the community was teaching these youngsters how to be good workers. Robert, the consummate teacher and mentor, worked with the boys,
maintaining and improving the grounds and buildings. He felt teaching them to be hard workers was the most important skill they could leave with, no matter what their future pursuits. The girls worked with Bianca, preparing and serving food, while discussing boyfriends, school, parents, music, etc. etc. They could talk to her about anything! No girl or boy went home at night without receiving a hug and a "Thank you for your help!" from Bianca. Decades later, former employees still returned to visit Robert and Bianca to relive the fun memories of their first "grown-up " jobs. Robert Wiegand passed away in 2008, and Bianca in 2015. Their legacy, and their lessons continue to teach and inspire us, and we miss them very much.
In 1987, Wendy Wiegand, Robert and Bianca's daughter, assumed management responsibility for the park, which she operated with her business partner, Bill Frantz, until May of 2019, when Ken and Carrie Borah of Parkman purchased the 104 acre property and the park business. With help from their children Annie, Kyle, and Joslyn, and a group of key loyal employees, Ken and Carrie have just completed their first season at the park, continuing a tradition of excellence in friendly customer service, delicious food preparation, and beautifully maintained grounds.
The entire park is rented to only one group each day for their private catered, company picnic, reunion, wedding, clambake, or fresh air meeting. The park can accommodate groups from 100 to 1000 (180 for weddings) and is only open to the public once a year, for an open house in May.
During the May - October season, guests enjoy boating and swimming, and playing softball, volleyball, basketball, corn hole, and horseshoes. There are extensive playgrounds, a large bi-level dance hall and pavilions, as well as refreshment stands where delicious food is served. Guests "graze "all day long on the extensive, homemade, all-you-can-eat menus, the simplest menu offering well over 20 choices! We are known for our friendly and approachable staff, top quality food, plenty to do, and a clean and beautiful facility. We give every guest a friendly smile and personalized service because "we enjoy what we do – and it shows!" If this sounds like what you're looking for, please contact Carrie for a personal tour of the grounds at info@WLakePark.com.