Dancing With the Celebrities

Naperville already had one contestant dancing for the mirror-ball trophy with Evan Lysacek. Now the city has six new contestants hitting the dance floor.

Councilman Grant Wehrli, Councilman Kenn Miller, Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis, City Manager Doug Krieger, Naperville Magazine Publisher Leah Rippe and State Representative Darlene Singer will soon be putting on their dancing shoes and competing in Naperville’s first-ever Dancing with the Celebrities competition.

The competition is a fundraiser for the community career center.

Chief Mark Puknaitis is used to hustling to a fire, but he is not used to doing the hustle on the dance floor.

“We’re doing the hustle, but we have a little twist on it,” said Puknaitis. “We have a great theme going that we’re not really going to disclose. So anybody watching this, it would probably be a good idea to come out and see that. I think they’ll be very pleasantly surprised. It’s very entertaining.”

Puknaitis and his professional dance partner Kelly Lakomy have spent weeks at Arthur Murray Dance Studio perfecting their routine.

“I had like four feet, now I have three, so hopefully I’ll just have two when the competition starts,” said Puknaitis.

“Our mission is just to have everybody really enjoy our routine, regardless if we get first or not, which we will,” said Lakomy. “But regardless if we do or not, we had a good time putting it together and we just want everyone to be entertained watching us.”

The duo isn’t disclosing the theme of their dance until the competition. Not even Leah Rippe, who also practices at Arthur Murray, is allowed to see them practice. Rippe and her partner James Dutton plan to cha-cha circles around the competition.

“We’ll probably win because we rock,” said Dutton.

“We will win,” said Rippe.

“But it’s for a good cause, so it doesn’t matter if we win or not. But we will win,” said Dutton.

Across town at Two Left Feet Dance Studio, Councilman Kenn Miller is hoping the name of the studio is not reflected in his salsa.

“It’s been difficult for me because I don’t have any coordination,” said Miller.

“It’s been fine, he’s just hard on himself,” said Sheila Royer, Miller’s professional dance partner.

The team has a Mexican theme and has been shaking it all over the dance floor.

“We just wanted something fun and playful,” said Royer. “Mambo’s a great song and since we got salsa we didn’t want to go with something completely out of the box. We wanted something that would just bring out the character in both of us.”

Although the salsa sensation plans to scoop the competition, they have only one goal for the evening.

“I want to do is be able to get through it and finish without stumbling,” said Miller.

“It’ll all turn out great, it really will,” said Royer.

The Dancing with the Celebrities competition takes place September 22nd at Meson Sabika.

And tune in to next week’s episode of Naperville News 17 to get a sneak preview of Councilman Wehrli, City Manager Doug Krieger and Darlene Senger stealing the spot light.


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