Couple reopens classic rink

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Adah Hadenfeldt lost sight in one of her eyes due to a detached retina, but couldn't let that stop her from doing something she really enjoyed - rollerskating and helping youngsters to learn to skate. However, her husband Vance said he figured they should take the doctor's advice and take it easy to allow her eye to heal after surgery. The couple own Funland on Lakeshore Drive which first opened in 1973.

"I figured if we opened again she'd be back on her skates," Vance said. The rink was closed down for a season so Adah could recover. "(When we reopened) she said boy it's good to be back on skates again."

The couple was unsure if they'd ever reopen, and had looked at selling the facility, unsuccessfully. They are happy to have the rink ringing with the sound of happy children again, and say they plan to keep it open for as long as they are able.

Back in the 1970s and '80s thy would see as many as 250 to 350 children coming in on a Friday night to skate. Nowadays sadly they say the numbers have dwindled. Rising costs make it hard to keep skating rinks open, Vance says - many need some supplemental source of income. In a computerized, video-game age, the skating industry is challenged.

"That's why they're not getting any exercise," Vance said of the more high-tech pursuits for children. Still, skating has its appeal to local families. It is fun, safe family entertainment, and good exercise especially in the cold months when kids can't spend a lot of time outdoors - a great way to hang out with friends and meet new friends, the Hadenfeldts say.

"If they've (adults) skated before, it's like riding a bicycle - you just have to get your balance back," Vance says.

Some things never change - year after year the limbo continues to be popular he says.

The Hadenfeldts say their family has enjoyed the enterprise as much as the families who have come there for entertainment.

The couple has four children and they all have worked at the rink. They have five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

"My family really worked to together and and played together," Vance said. "It's the best thing that happened to my family."

The couple have considered many of the children who came their often almost as an extended family as well.

For 30 years they have watched children grow in skating skill as they grow up. Today, some of the children they once taught as tiny beginners now bring their own children in to skate.

The skating rink first opened in 1973 and was then known as "The Rink." A few years later it was renamed "Funland," though still doing business as "The Rink."

The couple said they still remember the first day they opened. "They were lined up to the highway," he said. "We didn't have enough skates."

Early on, a stick of cotton candy cost 25 cents and was quite a popular treat for youngsters.

The family didn't have a lot of funds to pour into the enterprise, and they learned valuable - and sometimes hard - lessons along the way.

In 1976, the couple remember how skate wheels changed. Wheels were originally made out of wood or fiber. The newer skate wheels were made out of Urethane a softer material which made for a quieter wheel.

The couple say the first few years they attempted to have skating in the summertime, however, business was slow. "When the weather tuns nice the kids want to be outside," he said.

They decided to expand on their children's entertainment efforts, and packed up a mini golf course, go-karts and bumper cars and hauled it around in a trailer to fairs and festivals. However, one year the Iowa State Fair moved the date when they held the fair which impacted when counties could hold their fairs. Vance said they lost about half of their stops.

The couple decided to stop traveling stay home and focus on their business in Storm Lake. When the business celebrated their 25th anniversary in the late 1990's the business saw its half-millionth customer.

This past summer, hoping to entertain visitors to the Kings Pointe resort nearby, they added a few outdoor rides and installed mini golf in the closed rink area.

With the help of some high schoolers they have done some remodeling to the facility. After the skating rink closes for the season this spring, the couple say they may travel again with some rides.

They say they've faced challenges over the years but say they've had and continue to have fun.

"I'd just like to thank all the people who have come and skated with us," Vance said.

Funland is open on Friday to all ages from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information or pricing call 732-4518.

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