Above / On Thurs., Sept. 1, busy Naperville Jaycees gathered for a quick photo. When Beth DeGeeter mentioned the photo was for Positively Naperville, one of the Jaycees called out, “I always liked ‘Ed’s Many Hats.’ Does Ed Channell still write a column?” (PN Photo, Sept. 1, 2022)
Twenty-one years ago on the Friday before Labor Day, we had bundles of the first edition of Positively Naperville, prepared and eager to introduce the 8-page copy of PN to the community.
That first edition was made possible after more than 18-months of trials and errors, always focused on putting together small businesses with North Central College to sponsor the monthly publication for a year to get us off the ground and circulating.
We’d pitched the concept to showcase the arts, fundraisers, special events, local enterprise and the challenges that unite us. By spring 2001, we had eight solid sponsoring advertisers, including North Central College, all of whom committed to a year of advertising to get our web presses rolling.
With the help of Ray Kinney who’d taught us almost everything we needed to know about printing on a web press, we’d also arranged for the Naperville Jaycees to be featured on the cover to promote the 2001 Last Fling. And that August, many members of the nonprofit service club graciously met at their recently-finished gazebo along the Riverwalk extension for a photo. Photographer Jo Lundeen captured their community spirit for which we always will be grateful.
Last evening, Sept. 2, 2022, as we have done many times since we first published, we strolled Jackson Avenue to watch as the street along the DuPage River was transformed into the midway. Of course, Last Fling leadership was there with dedicated volunteers as well as hired crews, working together to set up tents, rides and stages.
For 2022, the Jaycees chairs are Beth DeGeeter and Pete Paulsen. We asked if they had a minute for a photo, then in an extemporaneous moment, Pete called other volunteers to gather around for a quick shot. And that moment led to another flashback to that “Photo by Jo” 21 years ago.
Late in that Friday afternoon on August 31, 2001, with my new PN press pass dangling, I made the rounds as Last Fling was receiving its safety check before its planned opening at 5PM.
I ventured over to the Sponsor’s Tent on Rotary Hill to see how last-minute preparations were going before the food lines opened at 6PM. I met up with two couples, Audrey and Chuck Bueche and Gertrude and Frank Osterland, four happy volunteers sitting around a table, rolling plastic tableware into napkins. I knew the Bueches from Jaycees meetings, but didn’t know the Osterlands. Frank Osterland recognized my name and informed me we’d been email buddies for a couple years via my column in the Daily Herald, but we’d never met in person.
(Note: Shortly thereafter, Frank Osterland began submitting his memories from a collection he’d written in the 1990s. One of his stories about the old swinging bridge across the DuPage River was reprinted in the September 2022 issue.)
That evening and all day Saturday and Sunday, the crowds were attracted to the family-friendly festivities at Last Fling along Jackson Avenue and over the DuPage River to the concert setting at Rotary Hill.
Fast forward to Mon., Sept. 3, 2001, when the annual Labor Day Parade was set to step off at 10AM along Mill Street. With permission from the Jaycees, we’d hired a couple neighborhood kids to pass out copies of that 2001 inaugural issue along the parade route.
When we arrived, folks were reading PN all along Mill Street toward Naperville North High School! But we couldn’t catch them reading. We didn’t have our camera!
2022 Uber Eats Labor Day Parade in downtown Naperville
Fast forward 21 years. The 2022 Last Fling Uber Eats Labor Day Parade is set for 10AM Mon., Sept. 5. The parade will run its usual route beginning at Naperville North High School and heading south along Mill Street, east on Jefferson Avenue (Yes! Jefferson will be open for the parade only on Labor Day. Organizers say he best place to watch between Webster and Main streets will be along the south side of Jefferson.), south on Main Street, and west on Porter Avenue toward Naperville Central High School where the parade ends at Webster.
Celebrate safely. Cheers to fond memories of Last Fling…