Of all the things that can be raced -- cars, boats, bikes, airplanes and even rubber ducks -- beds seem an unlikely candidate.
But beds will be the front-runners, the last-place finishers and all the middle-of-the-pack competitors as the annual Bed Races take to the street during the Naperville Jaycees' Last Fling.
If You GoWhat: Last Fling Bed Races
When: 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 31
Where: Porter Avenue just south of the Naper Settlement near the Naperville Central High School parking lot
Who: Sponsored by Naperville Jaycees
Cost: Free for spectators
Homemade "beds" -- actually "anything that has four posts and a flat surface" -- will be shooting down Porter Avenue just south of Naper Settlement beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, said Karen Coleman, a Jaycees member and Last Fling spokeswoman.
Four runners power each bed carrying one or two riders as teams face off in head-to-head 100-foot sprints for prizes and citywide bragging rights.
"You have one rider, sometimes two, depending on what your bed actually is. It doesn't necessarily need to be a bed," Coleman said. "You can decorate it however you want, make it your own thing, however crazy that may be."
Coleman said teams registered to race aren't given any bed-making materials, so creativity runs wild as themes such as "The Grateful Bed" and "Nuns on the Run" develop along with beds made to look like Santa's sleigh, a lemonade stand or a flying carpet.
"As long as you don't have very many vertical components to it, it should be pretty steady and aerodynamic," she said.
Some bed riders wear helmets to protect themselves, while one traditionally wears a hot dog suit. Last Fling mascot Frank E. Fling started participating in the event on a Jaycees team about two years ago. Coleman said he's been a hit ever since among the large crowds that leave the rest of the festival in Naper Settlement and along Jackson Avenue to watch the racers run.
"The kids really loved seeing the giant hot dog rolling down the road," Coleman said. "It's fast and it's fun, and it's always a good time."