McHenry Just for Fun Roller Rink set to shutter unless repairs made, funds raised

Published: Monday, June 1, 2015 4:01 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, June 2, 2015
By CHELSEA McDOUGALL – cmcdougall@shawmedia.com

McHENRY – The fundraising webpage dedicated to saving Just for Fun Roller Rink is filled with memories and tributes from a few McHenry residents who circled the rink throughout the years.

“Best of luck!! My husband and I meet there in 1977 and our kids grew up there. My son, daughter-in-law and grandkids love the place,” one donor wrote.

“This place was THE place to be as a kid. I would hate to see it go,” another said.

Just For Fun has been somewhat of a historical landmark in McHenry, but in recent years the building has fallen into disrepair.

A pothole-ridden gravel parking lot, dark exterior paint, dim lighting, outdated bathrooms and a general uninviting look have turned off some people in the community, Just for Fun owner Lisa Duncan admitted.

“The place is in such disrepair that we either have to raise money or we’re going to have to close,” Duncan said. “It’s so far from being up to code. I think we lose business because it looks so horrible.”

Duncan said Just For Fun, which has been operating as a roller rink for 70 years, will close Aug. 1 unless it can find enough money, building materials and volunteers to complete the necessary upgrades.

The roller rink never has been a moneymaking venture, Duncan said.

It earns just enough to keep the lights on. She and business partner Toby Tagliapietra also own a roller rink in Mundelein that has been carrying the McHenry location in recent years.

“We’re going to lose both businesses if we don’t let one of them go,” Duncan said.

A group of about 25 dedicated young skaters and Duncan started the GoFundMe page and put a $100,000 price tag on the repairs, but truth be told, Duncan doesn’t know what it would take to make the repairs.

The facility needs gravel, building materials, paint, fixtures, plumbing, cabinetry, lighting, a new roof and more.

As of Monday afternoon, $285 had been raised.

“It’s not about the money,” Duncan said. “We just need the [materials] to do it. It’s not about a dollar figure. We just need to figure out how to repair it.”

Just for Fun opened in 1945 and has been an operating roller rink ever since, according to the McHenry County Historical Society.

It’s not the first time the roller rink has fallen on hard times, however. It was on the brink of closing in 2000 when Duncan took over the business side. The building is owned by a trust, although Duncan and Tagliapietra are responsible for repairs, she said.

“All I know is we’ve got to save it,” Duncan said. “It’s an asset to the community, an asset for the kids. We’d be truly sad to let it go. I can’t imagine it being gone.”

History of the roller rink

The roller rink opened in McHenry on July 28, 1945. Before that it was a dance hall opened in 1935 called the Fox Pavilion. According to Mary Ellen Heelan from Cary, who is researching local dance halls, they often doubled as roller rinks.

“After all, the floor already was there,” said Kurt Begalka, administrator of the McHenry County Historical Society.

Original article here.