80 F
Saturday, September 30, 2023

Hot dog days begin with Last Fling


Frank E. Fling returns August 30

Fact is that not one member of today’s Jaycees Last Fling Executive Committee was born when the idea for the first family Labor Day picnic and parade were conceived by Rick Motta back in 1966.

Fast-forward 53 years and consider the long list of to-dos that 2019 Executive Director Tyler Petersen and his executive committee must complete by 6PM Fri., Aug. 30, before they receive clearance from public safety officers that all systems are go to begin this year’s four-day festival. Security and convenience are top of mind, organizers said.

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Recently, many members of the Jaycees Last Fling Executive Committee met at the new Naperville Jaycees Park, eager to announce information for the 2019 Last Fling, Aug. 30-Sept. 2. Pictured, from left, are HA POZOS, Last Fling Executive Director TYLER PETERSEN, Administrator DENISE PATE, CORI COZORT, JIM GROAT, Jaycees President MIRANDA BARFUSS, JESSICA HALL, LAURA DUFFECY, VERONICA DEKRUIFF JESSICA HALL, and CRISTIAN POZOS.

Try to imagine how the always-evolving event designed especially to please families as a farewell to summer has grown, packed with games, carnival rides, activities, live music and more.

“The Last Fling is a testament to the power of people volunteering for the common good of the community,” said Jaycees President Miranda Barfuss. “It also lifts up what is most important in life – time spent with family and friends.”

“I look forward to seeing all the familiar faces from the groups that volunteer each year,” added Last Fling Administrator Denise Pape.

Then skip to Monday morning when hundreds, if not thousands, of parade revelers assemble to showcase community spirit in the Labor Day Parade. Join spectators lining the parade route that begins at Mill Street near Naperville North High School before it meanders through downtown to end at Naperville Central High School.

The 54th Last Fling Labor Day Parade will recognize Loaves & Fishes Community Services, now celebrating 35 years, as Grand Marshal when the parade steps off at 10AM on Mon., Sept. 2.

Meanwhile, the Last Fling Executive Committee is tending to last-minute details in order to be ready to welcome festival goers for only $10 per adult, Petersen notes.

Advance tickets now are on sale via www.lastfling.org.

Last Fling: A Story of Growth and Development

Rick Motta told the story of Last Fling during a Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon in 2011.

As the story goes, back in the 1960s, Motta, owner of the Rick Motta Barber Shop, was a member business of the Naperville Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. After he saw the then-popular movie “Picnic,” Motta suggested that a festival and parade be held on Labor Day. The Chamber board appointed him to develop the idea.

“So, in 1966, the Last Fling was born with the best parade ever and some festivities in the Centennial Beach parking area,” Motta has told PN on occasion.

Motta’s passion and perseverance helped grow the event into a four-day festival, and he served as chairman through 1972.

The Last Fling was entrusted to the Naperville Jaycees in 1981.

Even today as the event keeps up with the times, its purpose remains the same. The goal is to provide a fun family-friendly festival to celebrate the end of summer in Naperville.

Last Flings Remembered

Memories of Last Fling have created lasting impressions for all ages dating back before the development of Naper Settlement, the Riverwalk, Rotary Hill and Moser Tower with the 72-bell carillon. Today those featured amenities help enhance the festival area along Jackson from Main Street to Aurora Avenue.

For longtime residents, former Jaycees, many turned Roosters, associated with many local businesses – Al DeGeeter, Brien Nagle, Tom Miers, Ray Kinney, Tom Jordan, Ed Channell, Brand Bobosky, Cliff Preston, Chuck Bueche, Chuck Corrigan and Kevin Gensler, to name a very, very few – come to mind.

Just how did this end-of-summer tradition happen to begin?

Back in 2002, two pages of minutes from the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce dated July 1965 were faxed to Positively Naperville. (When was the last time you received a fax?)

According to the minutes, Dick Wehrli, head of the Chamber’s community promotion committee at the time, advanced the idea of a Labor Day outing. “City officials have agreed that the use of the Centennial Park area could be worked out. A two or three day Labor Day Celebration is our hope—something that Naperville could be known for…”

The minutes reflect ideas for a weekend of picnics and outings, including a sports show and sports activities. The festivities would wind up with a parade, picnic, ball game, band concert, etc., on Labor Day.

Carl Nadelhoffer went on record to move the idea forward. The Chamber voted to support the gala Labor Day Weekend. Five hundred dollars were set aside for start-up funds.

The minutes also note that local leaders Bill Feldott and Ken Small motioned to approve all the ideas. And the 54-year history of planning the Labor Day Last Fling was set in motion.

Last Fling Outgrew Centennial Beach

Jaycees Roosters recall that after a decade, the Fling moved to Knoch Park for a few years to keep up with its growth. Then in 1981, Last Fling organizers in the Chamber of Commerce turned the event over to the Jaycees, a service club chartered locally in 1955.

At first, the Jaycees Last Fling set up its midway rides and carnival booths in the parking lot behind Ted’s Montana Grill. (Back then, Oswald’s Pharmacy operated where Ted’s is now.) By the mid-1980s, the event spilled over onto Jefferson. And that’s when the Jaycees sold the prized “buckets of beer,” a fun idea that was nipped in the bud.

Many longtime Jaycees boast that they still have commemorative beer buckets for an occasional toast.

Jackson Avenue or Bust!

In 1985, the Last Fling moved to Jackson Avenue, a perfect stretch for the Midway Carnival. Over the years, the Riverwalk and its parking lots have provided growth areas with venues for entertainment stages, business expos and other activities for all ages. Main Stage concerts were set at Rotary Hill.

Back in 2001, when Positively Naperville was new and covering its first Last Fling, Lynette Klingbeil served as executive director. She credited good weather as well as help from Jaycees’ administrators Roxanne Lang and Sue Gensler for that year’s success.

The Last Fling has given local supporters a joyful ride, amid ups and downs; always been focused on its goal to throw a fun party that welcomed the entire Naperville family.

In recent years, Naper Settlement has been home to the three-day Family Fun Land. Look for special events in special new venues all weekend.

Each $10 ticket will afford access to attractions within Family Fun Land, the Block Party Stage, Art Expo (new in 2019), all food vendors and Business Expo; plus, entrance to the Main Stage located on Rotary Hill, explained Public Relations Co-Chair Karen Coleman. Access to the Carnival remains free. Entry also is free to patrons ages 12 and under with a paid adult. “All-weekend Passes” will be $30.

Live Music & Entertainment 2019

The Last Fling has scheduled Main Stage Acts at Rotary Hill for 5PM and 8PM on Friday, as well as 12PM, 2PM, 5PM and 8PM on Saturday and Sunday. The Main Stage Area is open to all ticketed patrons and free for children aged 12 and under with paid adult until maximum capacity is met.  

The Last Fling Main Stage will start rocking on Friday evening, Aug, 30, with 7th Heaven followed by headliner Better Than Ezra. Gates open at 4:45PM.

“I’m so excited to see Better Than Ezra and 7th Heaven kick off the weekend on Rotary Hill,” said Jaycee Jessica Hall. “This is my first year working on the Executive Committee…I can’t wait to see all of our hard work come to fruition.”

On Sat. Aug. 31, 97Nine, The Right Now and Take The Reins will perform before headliner Vertical Horizon. Gates open at 11:45AM.

On Sun., Sept. 1, 16 Candles, The Ron Burgundy’s and Tres Moustache will open for Big Head Todd & The Monsters. Gates open at 11:45AM.

Plus, entertainment performed on stage at the Jackson Avenue Block Party is sure to please patrons all four days.

“This year’s event will feel a lot more like your typical music festival,” said Entertainment Co-Chair Danielle Tufano. “We decided to open the Main Stage gates earlier than most previous years to give patrons an opportunity to enjoy music throughout the day and allow them to come and go as they please. I really feel as if we have a solid line up this year and I hope that the community will come out, have some fun and help raise some money with us at the 2019 Last Fling.”

Special Day / Sunday, Sept. 1

2019 Naperville Jaycees Last Fling recognize first responders

Mindful of the heroic efforts made by the first responders to the deadly incident which took place at Henry Pratt Co. on February 15, 2019, the Naperville Jaycees will mark Sun., Sept. 1 as “one of community, partnership and servitude,” organizers said.

The National Anthem heard at the Main Stage on Rotary Hill will be led by Aurora Police Officer Christopher Weaver and all proceeds gathered in beverage tent tip jars from that day will be donated directly to the Aurora Police Foundation.

The Aurora Police Foundation was established in 1990 to provide financial resources for special projects outside the typical budgeted programs of the Aurora Police Department. Since its establishment in 1990, the Police Foundation has awarded numerous grants to serve health and safety issues in the community.   

“I am so humbled and grateful that the Naperville Jaycees have chosen to support Aurora Strong by donating to the Aurora Police Community Foundation,” said  Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman in a Jaycees news release. “Our Naperville brothers and sisters stood shoulder to shoulder with us on that fateful day [February 15, 2019 at the Henry Pratt Co. shooting] and it speaks to the partnership our communities have worked so hard to forge in times of peace. We will never be able to express the gratitude we feel for the support and strength provided to us by the Naperville community.”

Special Needs Day 2019

Sun., Sept. 1, is also Special Needs Day with exclusive, priority, no-wait seating at the Carnival with special wristband from 10AM to Noon. Event attendees with special needs must have a chaperone and wristbands remain valid until 12PM. Please stop by the carnival ticket booth to pick up wristband beginning at 9:30AM.  

Several additional events are planned for friends with special needs including Bingo, a Glow Dance Party and FREE entry into Family Fun Land on Sept. 1. Watch for more special events as they become available.


For everything you want to know about Last Fling 2019 with updates as they are presented, visit www.lastfling.org.

Then join the crowd to find music, food, family fun and a good way to say so long to summer.

Story submitted by Karen Coleman for 2019 Jaycees Last Fling with support of Positively Naperville archives and PN photos.

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PN Ombudsman
PN Ombudsman
An ombudsman is Scandinavian in origin dating back to Viking times; and refers to a community representative; usually acting independently on behalf of an organization, body of elected officials, or civic group. Thanks Scandinavia for inventing ombudsman.


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