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Friday, June 21, 2024

Old-fashioned fun and screams are sure to welcome all ages to 2023 Last Fling Midway

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Above / On Thurs., Sept. 1, busy Naperville Jaycees and the Naperville Fire Department were preparing for the opening of the four-day family fun festival set along Jackson Avenue in downtown Naperville. Admission is free of charge. NAPERVILLE JAYCEES LAST FLING CARNIVAL HOURS: 5PM-10PM Fri. / 10AM-10PM Sat. / 10AM-10PM Sun. / 12PM-8PM Mon. Hydrate. Celebrate safely.

A little PN history that connects to Jaycees Last Fling can-do spirit…

Twenty-two 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 and many meetings with now-Jaycees Rooster Ray Kinney, always focused on putting together small businesses with North Central College to make a commitment 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 to publish PN.

With the help of Kinney who had taught us almost everything we needed to know about printing on a web press as well as local service clubs and nonprofit organizations, we’d also arranged for the Naperville Jaycees to be featured on our first front page 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. (Folks who pick up a copy of the September 2023 issue will see the photo below under “Naper Nostalgia.”)

Thanks, Naperville Jaycees, for the Jaycees Marina, Jaycees Playground, Jaycees Gazebo and Jaycees Park that showcase community spirit along the Naperville Riverwalk. (2001 Photo by Jo Lundeen)

This afternoon, 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.

Danielle Tufano is the ice woman cometh.
Chad Pedigo, Pete Paulsen and Greg Moran set signs in the sponsor area that designate standing room only.

For 2023, the Jaycees chairs again are Beth DeGeeter and Pete Paulsen. As volunteers were working, we asked if they had a minute for a photo, then in an extemporaneous moment, Paulsen stopped what he was doing for the sponsor area and others gathered around for a quick shot.

Since the event was not yet opened, we’re able to present “a preview rather than a review” with a few hyperlinks that’ll take readers to the Naperville Last Fling website with the schedule featuring four days of family fun.

Flashback to that “Photo by Jo” 22 years ago…

Late in that Friday afternoon on August 31, 2001, with my new and first-ever 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. Frank said he liked what he saw on that first front page.

(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.

Next we anticipated the annual Labor Day Parade 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!

—PN

Click here for 2023 Schedule

With sunshine and 90-degree temperatures forecast, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

2023 Jaycees Labor Day Parade in downtown Naperville

The 2023 Last Fling Labor Day Parade is set for 10AM Mon., Sept. 4. Naperville native Ron Keller will serve as Grand Marshal. (Click here for notes about Ron Keller, Conductor Emeritus of the Naperville Municipal Band.) The parade will run its usual route beginning at Naperville North High School and heading south along Mill Street, east on Jefferson Avenue, south on Main Street, and west on Porter Avenue toward Naperville Central High School where the parade ends at Webster.

Click here to link to photo galleries of many Labor Day Parades when PN did have its camera.

Celebrate safely. Cheers to fond memories of Last Fling…

The first issue of Positively Naperville featured the Naperville Jaycees on the cover with a story about their signature event that takes place during Labor Day weekend. (PN Photo)

If you see something suspicious, say something by calling 9-1-1.

Last Updated Sept. 2, 2023, with reminders to hydrate as temperatures approach 90 degrees. Drink water.

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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.
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