In 1955 Columbia Pictures released a film titled “Picnic.” It was a movie about an annual Labor Day celebration in a small town in Kansas. It’s also the foundation behind Rick Motta’s plan to create the Last Fling in 1966.
“That was where all the business people in town were putting on this picnic for all the town’s people,” said Motta. “I thought ‘well maybe we can do that in Naperville.”
As a member of the Chamber of Commerce in Naperville, Motta convinced the board of directors to not only hold their own annual picnic, but also add a parade, talent competitions, and marching band competitions at the end of summer for one last fling. Motta carried the idea of the businessmen doing something for the town and took it one step further truly making it affordable for everyone.
“We never made money, but being in the barber business you realize everyone doesn’t have a lot of money in Naperville,” said Motta. “There are those who cant afford to go here or there because it costs too much money.”
In the early 80’s the Naperville Jaycees took Motta’s idea and brought it full circle. As construction for the Riverwalk began in the early 80’s the Naperville Jaycees made a commitment to raise $40,000 over a four year span for the project. As president of the Jaycees, Tom Miers had to find a way to come up with the money.
“I recall the summer before chairing the Last Fling and how disappointing it was because there really wasn’t much going on,” said Miers. “I thought ‘you know, maybe we ought to take over the last fling.’”
The Jaycees believed if they found sponsorship and brought in brats and beer they could raise money and just like Motta, give back to the city.
“The first year we raised $16,000. So we were able to make our commitment,” said Miers.
Families come together to experience an unforgettable weekend at the Last Fling, but not only do they see summer off the right way, they contribute to a good cause.
Officials say the fling raised around $1.1 million in the last 10 years and they expect to raise $140,000 this year. This year’s Last Fling includes performances from Tyler Farr, Sister Hazel, and Big and Rich with Gretchen Wilson. For more information visit lastfling.org.
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