One Naperville family is enjoying a 17-year old winter tradition. Mike and Bill Hiltenbrand created an ice rink in 1994 in their mother’s backyard on Jefferson Avenue. Now with high school children of their own, each year they lace up their hockey skates and glide into action.
“It feels good getting out here in the winter time, being with the kids, not sitting on the couch,” said Bill Hiltenbrand, one of the rink’s creators.
The family built the rink 17 years ago. All it took was 10,000 gallons of water and a little bit of hard work.
“At the time Centennial Beach still had the ice rink but they had put drainage in there,” said Mike Hiltenbrand. “They had a few bad years where it was not good ice and so we thought why not do it?”
The rink initially cost close to $500 in parts, including water, lumber, and plastic. Each year the brothers spend about another $240 to maintain the rink. Though it’s no United Center, they say the rink helps keep the family united through their common love of hockey. Today the game’s grown as the family has, now including sons, cousins, and close friends.
“The greatest thing about having a rink is having a rink,” said Connor Hiltenbrand, a senior at Neuqua Valley High School. “I don’t have to go Centennial because we take care of the ice better than they do.”
“It’s become a family tradition,” said Mike Hiltenbrand. “The kids have grown up with it.”
The Hiltenbrand brothers say the rink will be up for about another month. They use a tarp to protect the ice from the sun, and if conditions permit, they can usually continue skating until March. The family hopes to continue this winter tradition for the next generation of Hiltenbrand hockey fans.
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