The Early Days of The Just For Fun Roller Rink

During the 1920s, one of the most popular forms of entertainment was dancing. Clarence Niesen built the Fox Pavilion in 1922, and it turned into one of the hottest spots in town. Unfortunately, that term took on a more literal sense, as it burned to the ground in May 1931. Undaunted, Niesen rebuilt the Fox Pavilion on Front Street, this time made of cinder block, and had a grand opening in August 1931. The Fox carried on until the mid-1940s when it closed. In 1945, the Hirschmugls, Robert, Mary, and son Robert Jr., opened up the Just For Fun Roller Rink. 

Grand Opening Celebration Ad From The Woodstock Daily Sentinel July 19, 1945 Edition.

The Hirshmugls ran a similar business in Chicago and saw the opportunity in McHenry. The roller rink would also be a roller factory, making wheel for roller skates. Robert Hirshmugl had developed a wooden wheel that he had patented and sold to roughly 5000 roller rinks throughout the country. He had operated the E-Z Roll Wheel Company in Chicago since 1940 and planned to carry on the business in the eastern part of Just For Fun, employing about seven people. When the roller rink opened, some of the entertainment was to be provided by a Hammond electric organ six nights a week. A refreshment bar was also set up. For inexperienced skaters, they could come in early before official skating times and receive free lessons. Normal hours initially ran from 8pm until 11 pm, six nights a week.  

Advertisement From Daily Sentinel (Woodstock) Nov 22, 1947.

Heading into the summer of 1947, the Hirshmugls stopped using the rolling rink as a wheel factory. They expanded the rink from 102′ x 60′ to 165’x 60′. The conversion was a quick one, taking place in about a week. They took lumber from the walls in the factory and put them onto the skating rink. The construction led to over 10,000 square feet of skating surface. Also added was a new lighting system, which allowed for multiple colors which provided a variety of hues. Lastly, the Hirshmugls put in a new, more efficient heating system, which would allow for the heat to be controlled in such a way to allow for certain areas to get more heat than others. Just For Fun had their grand re-opening celebration on June 27, 1947.  

Ad From The Daily Sentinel, Dec 20, 1946.

Just for Fun was regarded as one of the best rinks in the area. Reportedly, people from across the area would come to McHenry, even if their hometown had a roller rink. Several different skating organizations held events at the rink including the Roller Skating Rink Operators Association. Also, many local organizations held events at the rink including the McHenry Chamber of Commerce. Of course, many birthday parties and seasonal parties were held at the roller rink. The Hirshmugls sold Just For Fun in October of 1949 to Ed Cepulis and John Stanaitis. Through the years, Just For Fun has been a staple in the McHenry Community. Generations of people have passed through its doors. Sadly, after 75 years of being in business, the Just For Fun Roller Rink announced that it would be closing for good in September 2020.  

  • “Grand Opening” The Daily Sentinel (Woodstock, IL). 19 Jul 1945, 3. Web. 6 Aug 2020.
  • “Just For Fun Skating Rink To Open July 28” The McHenry Plaindealer. 19 Jul 1945, 1. Web. 6 Aug 2020.
  • “First Anniversary Party At Just For Fun Rink” The McHenry Plaindealer. 1 Aug 1946, 4. Web. 6 Aug 2020.
  • “Colorful Event Will Feature Fine Program” The McHenry Plaindealer. 2 Dec 1948, 1. Web. 6 Aug 2020.
  • “To Whom It May Concern” The McHenry Plaindealer. 15 Apr 1948, 4. Web. 6 Aug 2020.
  • “Sale of Just For Fun” The McHenry Plaindealer. 27 Oct 1949, 4. Web. 6 Aug 2020.
  • “Basketball on Roller Skates” The McHenry Plaindealer. 24 Nov 1949, 4. Web. 6 Aug 2020.
  • “McCullom Lake On Parade” The McHenry Plaindealer. 3 Jul 1947, 3. Web. 6 Aug 2020.
  • “McHenry Rink Now Boasts 10,000 Square Feet Skating Surface” The McHenry Plaindealer. 12 Jun 1947, 1. Web. 6 Aug 2020.
  • “News From Just For Fun Rink” The McHenry Plaindealer. 26 Jan 1950, 6. Web. 6 Aug 2020.
  • “News From Just For Fun Rink” The McHenry Plaindealer. 16 Mar 1950, 10. Web. 6 Aug 2020.
  • “Plan Night Of Fun For Youth On Halloween” The McHenry Plaindealer. 24 Oct 1946, 1. Web. 6 Aug 2020.