After a year away due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Naperville Jaycees’ Last Fling community festival returns this weekend.
Organizers are bringing back the beloved end-of-summer tradition in a scaled-back version, limiting the scope to Jackson Avenue in downtown Naperville. They are using local bands as entertainment instead of nationally known headliners to be financially prudent in the first year back.
The Naperville Municipal Band will perform in the annual Labor Day parade, on the last day of Naperville Jaycees’ 55th Last Fling festival. – Daily Herald File Photo, 2016
Entertainment Chairwoman Danielle Tufano said the template for this year’s four-day event, the 55th Last Fling, came from the attempt to make last Labor Day’s event happen. When the Jaycees were forced to cancel, organizers carried over their efforts to this year.
“We really wanted to bring back this festival that’s loved by the Naperville community,” Tufano said. “It was really important that we found a safe way to get everybody back together again.”
Admission is free on each day from Friday through Monday, although donations are encouraged either through the on-site dropboxes, the QR codes found on the grounds, or at lastfling.org.
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The Last Fling is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Naperville Jaycees, who donate proceeds to a variety of nonprofit organizations. According to Tufano, about $2 million has been raised in the last decade alone.
This year’s event will look familiar with carnival rides, food and entertainment. Safety measures are being put in place, including numerous hand sanitizing stations and a commitment to cleaning high-traffic areas.
Libido Funk Circus will play at the Naperville Jaycees’ Last Fling. – Daily Herald File Photo, 2017
Music headliners are 7th heaven, Hi Infidelity, Sixteen Candles and Libido Funk Circus, in addition to numerous other musical acts each day. The carnival will go until 11 p.m. from Friday through Sunday, and until 8 p.m. on Monday. A carnival Mega Pass is available for unlimited rides and can be purchased for $49.99 at participating Jewel-Osco stores.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, visitors with special needs will get priority, no-wait seating on carnival rides with a wristband. There will be bingo, cotton candy, cupcake and spaghetti eating contests, water balloon and sack races, an inspirational rapper and numerous family activities throughout the weekend.
The annual parade begins at 10 a.m. Monday, and a celebration of the Riverwalk’s 40th anniversary will take place at 2 p.m. Monday.
“The community has welcomed us back with open arms, so we’re excited to celebrate with everyone,” Tufano said. “Our biggest goal is to make sure everyone feels safe and just wants to come out and have some fun.”