Last Fling—it’s a sign that summer is truly coming to an end.
While that’s less than a sunny thought, the event aims to be a celebration of the season and help not-for-profits in the area.
Months of planning and preparation for the Naperville Jaycees all comes down to the week before the gates are opened to the public. And despite less than favorable weather, crews were hard at work transforming Rotary Hill.
“Once the 10-day forecast comes out, we start pouring over it” said Last Fling Executive Director Mike Kreger. “We anticipated that there would be some weather during the week of set up, so we worked very hard.”
About 1,000 of those working hard to get Last Fling ready are volunteers.
“A lot of people, when they think of Last Fling, they think of all the fun, the drinking, the concerts, the rides, all that stuff” said Signage Committee Member Chad Pedigo. “But they don’t really think about everything that has to happen behind the scenes in order to help make that process all come together. It’s all volunteers.”
Contractors helped build the main stage, which houses musical acts such as Buddy Guy and Collective Soul.
And as usual, all the proceeds from Last Fling are funneled right back into the community.
“This money goes to help other organizations here based in our community, based in Naperville” said Pedigo. “So the people that come and spend the money on the food, on the rides, the drinks—that’s going towards one of the best causes that I can think of and that’s helping ourselves.”
This year, Last Fling honors a founding member of the not-for-profit Naperville Jaycees, Chuck Bueche, who passed away earlier this year.
“Chuck really dedicated his life to community service. He felt it was the rent you pay for occupying your space on earth” said Kreger. “He really believed in giving back to Naperville, and that’s how we enrich ourselves as a community.”
“We’re also dedicating our Labor Day parade in his honor” added Kreger. “His wife, Audrey Bueche, will be the grand marshal this year.”
That parade will go on as usual this year. Road crews finished work on the Jefferson Avenue Bridge just in time for the Fling.
“Last Fling has always been a big ‘thank you’ to Naperville” said Kreger. “It was originally conceived by the Jaycees as a way to say ‘thank you’ to Naperville for all of your support of the non-profits in Naperville. And it still is that way.”
And 44 years later, the tradition continues.
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