A Chinese dragon, Curious George, cheerleaders and marching bands from several area high schools punctuated Naperville's Last Fling Labor Day parade and carnival.
Crowds of area residents donning sweaters and fall jackets to keep warm staked lawn chairs or squatted along downtown streets to enjoy the last summer parade Monday.
School marching bands invigorated the crowds with their toe-tapping beats, eliciting claps and smiles along the route.
"I like the marching bands. I like the energy," said Dave Otto of Naperville. "All the high school bands were great this year. It's a volunteer effort. You see the faces of the kids and it shows, they love it."
Children lined up with bags to catch candy and other treats thrown from floats as though it were a Halloween party.
While most floats promoted businesses or local government and their services, some groups used the opportunity to make political statements such as the practitioners of Falun Dafa, a traditional Chinese meditation exercise banned in China, promoting tolerance, and the followers of the tea party movement giving anti-abortion shout outs.
Gusts of crisp, cool breezes offered parade goers welcome respite from the recent high temperatures in the Midwest.
"We've been having 100 degree weather in St. Louis," said Mary Ann Heaton who was visiting her daughter-in-law in Naperville. "This is such a relief."
Heaton said she was so impressed with Naperville's parade and other attractions in town that she would return next year.
"I think it's fabulous," she said. "I love this town. I walked on the Riverwalk. You don't see that in most communities."
For much of the crowd, the parade offered one last chance for the community to come together before cooler weather forces people indoors.
"It's one of my favorite parades," said 14-year-old McKenzie Pryor, a freshman at Naperville North High School. "There's a lot of floats. A lot of people come (which) makes it fun."