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updated: 8/30/2011 1:01 PM

Naperville's four-day Last Fling to make a splash

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  • No Last Fling festival is complete without a few eating contests. This year's event will feature competitions for brave residents who believe they can eat the most spaghetti, ice cream or pie.

      No Last Fling festival is complete without a few eating contests. This year's event will feature competitions for brave residents who believe they can eat the most spaghetti, ice cream or pie.
    Daily Herald File Photo

  • The annual Diaper Derby is a favorite Last Fling event for parents and spectators alike. Naperville's fastest tots will face off between 1 and 2 p.m. Saturday at Naper Settlement.

      The annual Diaper Derby is a favorite Last Fling event for parents and spectators alike. Naperville's fastest tots will face off between 1 and 2 p.m. Saturday at Naper Settlement.
    Daily Herald File Photo

  • A haven for all skateboard enthusiasts, the Centennial Park Skate Facility is a popular Naperville hang out. During this year's festival the annual Last Fling Skaters' Picnic will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

      A haven for all skateboard enthusiasts, the Centennial Park Skate Facility is a popular Naperville hang out. During this year's festival the annual Last Fling Skaters' Picnic will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.
    Daily Herald File Photo

 
By Megan Bannister
mbannister@dailyherald.com

It didn't take much to convince Minuteman Press President Ray Kinney to participate in the newest addition to the Naperville Jaycees Last Fling.

"They paid me thousands of dollars," he said with a laugh.

But, in fact, Kinney will sit precariously atop the dunk tank for free.

"The Jaycees have a special place in my heart and if they want to make fun of me a bit that's fine," Kinney said.

A past Last Fling director and member of the Jaycees, he believes the group is a "great organization that provides leadership for young people," even though he is "no longer young."

Instead Kinney spends one evening a year with the Roosters, a group of past Jaycees over the age of 40, pouring beers and grilling brats at the Last Fling.

Festival-goers who would like to try their hand at the dunk tank can purchase three balls for $5 at the Jaycees Info Booth at Jackson Avenue and Eagle Street.

A seasoned dunk tank veteran at Naperville's Ribfest, Kinney has only one concern about his fate in the tank.

"My only request has been that we get wet suits," he said. "That water is cold."

Also among those to brave the dunk tank on Saturday and Sunday are Councilman Grant Wehrli, park district Executive Director Ray McGury and Sean Drendel, Naperville North High School's head football coach.

The event will be a fundraiser as part of the annual Last Fling, which opens Friday and continues through Monday in downtown Naperville.

"Within the past two decades we've given over $2 million to local charities not just in Naperville but in the surrounding DuPage area," Last Fling Executive Director Brad Taylor said.

The annual end-of-summer bash, sponsored by the Naperville Jaycees, is a favorite of suburbanites young and old alike.

This year the Jaycees have added another beer tent area near the Main Stage. Taylor says organizers wanted to prevent people from being "overwhelmed in one area" where everyone was being served.

Last Fling also will serve wine for the first time.

As in years past, Last Fling will include a four-day carnival along Jackson Street from Main Street to Centennial Beach. Unlimited ride MegaPasses are available online for $49.99 and may be used every day of the festival.

Carnival Deal Day runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and will give carnival enthusiasts the opportunity to enjoy unlimited rides for $20. Individual tickets also will be available for purchase for $1 each.

The annual festival also will host an extensive Family Fun Land, open for the first time on a Monday during the Last Fling.

A special performance by the Radio Disney Road Show will kick off the group's national tour from 1 to 4 p.m. in Family Fun Land and promises to be a must-see show for younger children.

"It's huge in the fact that it brings families together," Taylor said. "It's a family oriented event."

Taylor stresses that the fest isn't limited to Naperville families.

"People come from all over to see us," he said. "The most rewarding thing for myself is that we're able to donate so much money back out to charities in the area."

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