A large banner stretched across the sign marking the entrance to SouthGate Center at 24125 W. 11th Street promoted a Fall Festival on Oct. 20.
The banner promised food, music, prizes and more.
An “exposition of Bed Racers” that photographer Jeffrey Ross had helped arrange was on the schedule of activities, too. Ross, also a member of the Naperville Jaycees, has organized the Jaycees Last Fling Bed Races for the past three years.
First created as a Jaycees event that ran its course, then brought back to Porter Street behind Naper Settlement during Naper Days that also is on hiatus, the exciting Naperville Bed Races had been back on the schedule of the Last Fling 2012.
Shortly before the September race, the event was canceled due to the weather forecast that ” called for 100 percent chance of rain at race time. It was a tough decision, but we had to play it safe,” Ross said that day.
Bed Racing Exposition
Ross had wanted to reschedule the Jaycees event with 12 participating bed racers. Timing just didn’t work. Then when Bob Parida, an enthusiastic bed racing contestant since their revival at Naper Days, suggested the location of his business in the south side of the city, Ross lent a hand.
Ross noted that bed racer frames belonging to Young Professionals of Naperville (YPN) and NCTV17 were borrowed and redecorated for Saturday’s race.
When it came time for Saturday’s competition shortly after 11AM, three bed racers lined up, revved up for the first of two heats.
Fall Festival organizer Parida flagged the start for the three entries.
Crossfit Resurgence, the Midwest Fit Club and South Naperville Chamber representing the Naperville Area Humane Society, each with four runners, raced to the end of the track lined with bales of hay. Each time Midwest Fit Club was victorious. And later a trophy was presented.
Naperville Area Humane Society, too!
Parida, owner of Sparks Car Care, said he had suggested the idea of the fall festival to Mayor George Pradel to bring folks to 111th Street so residents could see another side of Naperville. “We have a lot going on down here,” he said. “This is still Naperville.”
Parida added that the Naperville Area Humane Society was in attendance with dogs up for adoption.
A live band, face painting and other activities for youngsters in Halloween costumes showcased Parida’s community spirit for all ages.
South Gate Center on 111th Street, just west of Route 59.
Going forward with Jaycees Last Fling Bed Races in 2013
Ross is mindful that building the bed racer takes time and skill.
“I’m hoping to interest at least 12 teams for next year’s Last Fling. I hope to match up families, service clubs, nonprofit organizations and businesses with people who can build and engineer the bed racers. One year the Wehrlis and the Beidelmans raced. … I hope other families will do it, too.”
Ross suggested that building a bed racer could be a great Eagle Scout project.
In recent years, the designs of the bed racers have been most innovative and creative. The fun-loving and spirited Bed Races attract all ages to Last Fling, a four-day family-friendly festival with many events and activities all along the Jackson Avenue, the Riverwalk and Rotary Hill.
The Bed Races along Porter Avenue, just south of Naper Settlement, will return during the 2013 Last Fling, weather permitting. Ross also is looking for interested volunteers to help with organizing next year’s races.
“Bev Frier was one of our judges for Last Fling. She’s always been a great help,” Ross added.
The Nuns on the Run from St. Patrick’s Residence continue to be the defending champions.
Stay tuned for updates. Meanwhile, perhaps begin thinking of a design for a bed racer and plan to enter next year.
For the complete schedule of events and activities that will be hosted by the Naperville Jaycess throughout the year, check www.naperjaycees.org. Remember the Last Fling returns Labor Day weekend 2013.