Four days of fun await at Naperville's Last Fling
Naperville's largest and longest-running festival is back for its 53rd year.
The Last Fling, hosted by the Naperville Jaycees, brings a variety of concerts, contests, races, unusual activities and carnival rides, along with a pop-up escape room, a one-mile race and a parade Friday through Monday, Aug. 31 to Sept. 3, to celebrate the sunset of summer in downtown Naperville.
New this year, there's a $5 cover charge to get into Family Fun Land at the Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St., as well as a $5 cover for the Block Party stage on Jackson Avenue after 4 p.m.
There also will be a world record attempt involving paper crowns, a glow-dance party for people with special needs, a local pilot flyover during the Labor Day Parade and emoji bingo, but no Skaters Picnic and no Rooster 5K.
Following tradition, the Fling offers four days of fun. Here's a breakdown of some highlights to have a good time each day, with suggestions from Jim Groat, a Jaycees past president and co-executive director of this year's festival, as well as Alex Anderson, a Jaycees member in charge of festival public relations.
Contests challenge people to eat spaghetti, cupcakes, cotton candy and ice cream during the Last Fling hosted by the Naperville Jaycees.
- Daily Herald file photo 2010
Friday, Aug. 31
• CluedIn Escape Rooms: Available by appointment all four days, a pop-up escape room with a carnival design is set to offer a new adventure. Suitable for groups of two to four people, the themed challenge inside a 10-foot-by-10-foot tent costs $10 per group for a 20-minute game, says Brian Sommer, owner and designer for the Glen Ellyn-based business.
Instead of escape as the goal, inside the tent, the aim is to solve a mystery and complete a story. "We get a lot of people who've never done an escape room before, and it definitely piques their interest," Sommer says. "Often they surprise themselves."
To reserve a time, visit cluedinescaperooms.com.
• Carnival: The carnival begins 5 to 11 p.m. opening day and runs 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday.
It offers a special-needs session from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday, in which people with special needs can get wristbands for no-wait seating. Anderson said organizers are optimistic a favorite ride from the 1990s might make an appearance in a new form.
Carnival mega passes are available for $49.99 at four Jewel-Osco locations in Naperville before the festival begins, offering unlimited rides all four days. Remaining passes will be sold at the event for $60. Tickets also will be sold on-site at automated and staffed booths.
• Pop 2000 Tour: At 7 p.m. on the main stage at Rotary Hill, the boy bands of the Pop 2000 tour, led by host Lance Bass of *NSYNC, start to play. The throwback crush concert features O-Town, Aaron Carter, Ryan Cabrera and Tyler Hilton. Tickets start at $15.
An attempt for a world record involving an exercise called "burpees" fell short in 2016, but Last Fling organizers are set to try again this year with the record for "most people wearing paper crowns."
- Daily Herald file photo, September 2016
Saturday, Sept. 1
• Cotton candy- and Cupcake-eating contests: Leading off a variety of eating contests at the Fling are the sweets. Cotton Candy-eating prowess will be tested at 11:30 a.m. in the craft tent inside Family Fun Land, while contestants can race to down the most cupcakes from SmallCakes at 3 p.m. on the stage in the Riverview parking lot on Jackson Avenue.
Later in the Fling are eating contests featuring spaghetti from Braconi's (1 p.m. Sunday on the stage in the Riverview lot) and ice cream from Kilwins (1 p.m. Monday on the stage in the Riverview lot).
• Naperville's Got Talent: Talented contestants who submitted an application video in advance are set to take the stage competition-style at 5:30 p.m. in the Riverview parking lot on Jackson Avenue. Groat says the contest is a fun way to give young performers a chance to impress.
• The Ron Burgundys: On the Block Party stage on Jackson Avenue, a band featuring "Chicago's premiere yacht rock," also known as '60s, '70s and '80s soft-core rock, is set to take the stage as The Ron Burgundys. "They're absolutely fantastic," Groat says, and a real get for the Fling.
• Gen-X Summer Tour: A show for the PG-13 crowd featuring Buckcherry, P.O.D., Alien Ant Farm and Lit begins at 4:30 p.m. on the main stage at Rotary Hill. Tickets start at $20.
Sunday, Sept. 2
• World record attempt: From 1 to 2:30 p.m. in Family Fun Land, Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament of Schaumburg will sponsor an attempt to break the Guinness world record for, wait for it, "most people wearing paper crowns."
Organizers say they're aiming to attract 1,500 participants, who will be given wristbands for counting purposes, as the record-breaking attempt must be official.
• Medieval Times meet and greet: Queen Dona Marie Isabella from Medieval Times has a crown that's better than paper. She'll mingle with fans from 3 to 4:30 p.m. inside Family Fun Land. Stick around later for knight training with the Queen and members of her court.
"Instead of past years, we've had a Disney star, this year, we're doing a meet and greet with the Queen," Anderson said.
• Special needs activities: Join Little Friends at 4 p.m. on the stage in the Riverview parking lot on Jackson Avenue for a special needs-friendly glow dance party. The nonprofit organization also sponsors special needs-friendly bingo at 11 a.m. in the same location.
• Cheap Trick and flyover: Take a look toward the sky about 6:40 p.m. during the national anthem before the Cheap Trick show on the main stage at Rotary Hill and take in the aeronautics of the Lima Lima Flight Team. This group of pilots based at Naper Aero Club in the Aero Estates subdivision was a staple doing flyovers during parades and events in the 1980s and 1990s Naperville, Groat said.
"That's something that people haven't seen in Naperville in years," he said.
The flyover follows the show by opening act SMILE, a band formed by Robin Taylor Zander, the son of Cheap Trick's Robin Zander. After the planes and the anthem, local rockers Lucky Boys Confusion are set to take the stage at 7 p.m. before Cheap Trick at 8:30 p.m.
The Labor Day Parade during the Last Fling in Naperville is set for 10 to 11:30 a.m. Monday between Naperville North and Naperville Central high schools.
- Daily Herald File Photo, September 2017
Monday, Sept. 3
• Fling Mile: A running tradition at the Last Fling, Frank E.'s Fling Mile challenges runners to beat the festival's mascot, who will dash in a hot dog suit. Race-day registration costs $20 for the chip-timed contest that begins at 9:15 a.m. on Main Street, just south of Jefferson Avenue, and runs an out-and-back course.
All participants get a medal, and age-group winners get one better: the golden mustard medal for first place, silver relish medal for second or bronze ketchup medal for third.
• Labor Day Parade: From 10 to 11:30 a.m. along downtown streets between Naperville North and Central high schools, including Mill, Jefferson, Main and Porter, watch a procession of civic groups, clubs and other entries walk by in this long-standing tradition.
Nothing will be thrown, but some groups are known to hand out fliers and freebies.
• Emoji Bingo: It's a thing. Play bingo with emoji characters at 2:30 p.m. in the craft tent inside Family Fun Land.
• Pet Look-Alike Contest: The Naperville Area Humane Society challenges people who look like their pets, and pets who look like their people, to show off their resemblance in the final contest of the Fling at 3 p.m. The fun takes place on the stage in the Riverview parking lot on Jackson Avenue.