The dunking tank was an attraction in the Olympic Midway and operated for several years in the early 1960s.
The business was owned by Ron and Pat Ellwood of Niles, who vacationed at the lake and one day came up with the idea of a booth while just sitting around and laughing with family and friends.
Their original idea was an egg toss, but after a couple of days of that, the target said no more.
“We damn near killed him,” says Pat Ellwood. Despite wearing a wet suit under his clothes and a mask, the eggshell shards cut the target’s skin and got in his eyes. And the stench was awful.
Pat heard about a volunteer fire department that was selling its dunk tank and purchased it. “Then the fun began,” she says.
Some days, their target, Billy Rosemeyer of Youngstown, dressed as a clown. Other days, he dressed as a typical GOTL tourist. “Most of the time, he just wore a bathing suit,” Pat says.
“We had a picnic. It was so much fun,” Pat says, recalling those summer days. She says the girls from the Burlesque Theatre would come down to the midway and play the games.
“Irma the Body would come down and do a bump and grind, then throw the ball,” Pat says.
After two years of owning the dunk tank, the couple set up an archery range. Pat opened the first air-brushed T-shirt and sweatshirt shop on The Strip. It was known as Kraziest Sweatshirts and Pat eventually turned it over to Margaret Vogel, his mother. Ron did costume designs on the weekends and expanded his business to Ellwood Advertising, which created designs for almost every school, fraternity and athletic team in Ohio’s Mahoning Valley.
Ron Ellwood died in 2010, but his wife still visits GOTL, where their daughter, Jamie Ellwood, lives.