Who will ever forget the picture – Baby leaning on the railing with her cute little dress and sweater, dreaming of what was to come – the stone covered pathway and the camera panning back to this big rustic resort building known as Kellermans – Baby sneaking a peak through the window as old man Kellerman talks to the service staff, and then seeing Johnny Castle for the first time. I can see those moments from that movie so clearly.
The setting of Kellermans seemed so perfect for the story of Dirty Dancing- the beautiful scenery, lake, cabins and tons and tons of activities from which to choose. What an ideal way to spend some time during the Summer. I always hoped one day to visit a place like Kellermans. Three years ago I got my wish when I was asked to be an instructor for the National Recreation and Park Association’s Directors School. The school was to be held at the Oglebay Resort and Conference Center and although many of my colleagues were very familiar with Oglebay, I had never been there before.
Oglebay is about a one hour drive from the Pittsburgh airport. I can remember that first year renting a car and making that trek to Wheeling, seeing a huge Cabelas store on the way and enjoying the experience of traveling to a new part of the country. I got to Wheeling and immediately began seeing the signs that direct you Oglebay via a winding road filled with numerous twists and turns. It felt like I was driving on that road for a very long time and then, all of a sudden, there it was – Kellermans! No, it was not the same building as in the movie, but the same rustic resort-type feel that greeted Baby in the movie greeted me at Oglebay. There is a porch lined with rocking chairs at the main entrance to guest registration. It reminded me of the rocking chair that Baby’s father sat in as he sadly stared at the lake and wondered where his innocent daughter had gone. Individual cabins line the trails around the resort and I could imagine all of the “dance staff” popping out of any of them at any given time. The lake, the paddle boats, the stables, the golf courses – all aspects of what I envisioned Kellermans to be. You can stand at the top of a hill and watch the deer romp on the property. You see a father and son fishing in the lake. A trolley makes regular stops by the front porch to take guests to visit various places in the park. The resort even has a small zoo with quite an impressive stock of animals. And the trademark hanging plants stationed on just about every pole. The restaurant was also reminiscent of Kellermans with multi level seating and beautiful views. And then there was the library. The library is actually a small pub-type restaurant and lounge nicknamed the library by the school students who tend to spend some time there during the course of the week sipping a few brews and making friends that will last a lifetime. Oglebay is definitely a magical place. And in a few days I will be happily on my way back to my Kellermans. I look forward to it every year. And although there are no Johnny Castles there, I have found it to be a wonderful place to learn, refresh and renew. And who knows, there may even be an evening of “dirty dancing” in the library!