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WKSU is looking for the answers to the questions you have about Ohio in a project we call "OH Really?" It's an initiative that makes you part of the news gathering process.

Blossom doesn't exactly need to be winterized. OH Really?

photo of fireworks oveer blossom music center
The unique shape of Blossom Music Center requires different winterization procedures than you may expect.

Blossom Music Center is waiting out its 54th winter until the Cleveland Orchestra – and other performers -- return next summer. A listener asked our “OH Really?” team about weatherizing the iconic pavilion each year.

Karen Lowden from Barberton was enjoying a Cleveland Orchestra concert this past summer at Blossom, in Cuyahoga Falls. And she began wondering about the process to protect the cone-shaped pavilion, which was designed by renowned architect Peter van Dijk. It opened in 1968 – and the original wood flooring and redwood walls are still there today. Ron Willner, the orchestra’s Director of Venues and Events, says the shape was so well conceived, the interior doesn't actually need weatherproofing -- the elements cannot get too far into the structure.

“The basic weatherproofing is really nonexistent. We cover the stage floor and put a sealant down every one or two years to protect the wood. The seats are left uncovered. The wood is natural. It was Peter van Dijk's vision over 50 years ago, to make sure that it maintained its look and its luster. So, the only damage that gets to the wood [is] the traveling roadshows through Live Nation, some of the Orchestra shows, and so on. The redwood maintains its look. It's held up in the elements throughout winter. throughout summer, throughout spring and so on. It doesn't really see any effects and people are just amazed when they come by and look at its nature and beauty.”

Among the redwoods
Willner laughs when asked if the walls still have the scent of redwood.
“There's been a lot of rock and roll bands coming through there, so it may have a lot of different smells other than redwood. But it does still smell like an outdoor nature park when you're around the perimeter of the pavilion.”

One of the rock performers who has returned many times to Blossom is James Taylor. He was here this past summer, as well as in 1979:

After this many years, do the plastic stadium seats need to be replaced?

“We're actually having discussions about replacing them, possibly through some capital funding through the State of Ohio," Willner said. "We kind of think that 50 years is long enough [and] we should start looking at replacement and things like that. Pieces and parts, getting some of those, is a little bit challenging [due to] the supply chain and things like that to get replacements and get them fixed and repaired and get them back the way they were."

Willner added “they're not covered throughout the winter. They're left uncovered; they're durable seats. Rarely does the snow come in through the pavilion area. It's more of the coldness and things like that where they might get a little brittle.”

Going for a swim
Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, is a similar venue to Blossom. Their weather-proofing regime does involve closing up the stage, and they also have a little-known feature to winterize: a backstage swimming pool. But there’s nothing like that at Blossom.

“We've, ironically, actually talked about that, believe it or not," Willner said. "We've talked about upgrading elements for artists, but the room backstage and behind the pavilions is a little bit challenging. We're in the process, right now, of fixing an erosion problem that's immediately behind the pavilion. I've actually seen drawings where Live Nation's actually looking at different options of putting a swimming pool and things like that.”

An original model of blossom.
Courtesy Peter van Dijk
When Blossom Music Center opened in 1968, the Cuyahoga Valley Recreation Area -- today's CVNP -- was still six years away from being established.

Blossom and the CVNP
One last thing to mention from our question-asker, Karen Lowden: she wanted to know how Blossom was able to be built within a national park. But actually, Blossom opened six years before the establishment of what was then called the Cuyahoga Valley Recreation Area; it wasn’t designated a national park until the year 2000.

“OH Really?” makes you part of the reporting process at WKSU. Ask your question now:

Kabir Bhatia joined WKSU as a Reporter/Producer and weekend host in 2010. While a Kent State student, Bhatia served as a WKSU student assistant, working in the newsroom and for production.