Fresh faces turn out for ‘Last Fling’
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media August 30, 2012 1:44PM
Eric Fosse of Naperville hangs a tarp along the base of a ride during preparations for a previous Last Fling. | SUN-TIMES MEDIA FILE PHOTO
♦ Aug. 31-Sept.3
♦ Downtown Naperville
♦ (630) 961-4143
Updated: September 17, 2012 7:02PM
One of the Disney Channel’s biggest stars is coming to the Naperville’s Last Fling for a free meet and greet with fans.
Debby Ryan, star of “Jessie,” “Radio Rebel” and “The Suite Life on Deck,” will be at the Naperville Jaycees Last Fling from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Family Fun Land at Naper Settlement, said spokeswoman Courtney Brown.
The Last Fling, which will attract about 200,000 visitors over the course of the weekend, will be from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday. The free fest stretches from Jackson and Main streets (where the carnival starts) all the way to Naper Settlement in downtown Naperville.
When it comes to parking, you can park at All Saints Catholic Academy, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Naperville train station and North Central College. A free shuttle service will run between the three locations and the heart of the fest, Brown said.
If you want a chance to meet Ryan, wristbands will be distributed while supplies last beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday at the Fun Land’s main gate entrance, she said. No overnight camping is allowed, but fans may begin lining up at 7 a.m., she said.
“They’ll probably start lining up before that,” she said. “And the line will go all the way down Aurora Avenue. It’s a very popular event. And most people who line up and really want to see her will be able to. It’s a big deal and a lot of fun and the kids love it. We’re really excited to have Disney Channel back again.”
Before that however, the Belgio Main Stage comes alive with a mix of current and classic rockers. The main stage is located on Rotary Hill.
Chicago’s own The Ides of March serve as headliners Friday night, while country music stars Craig Morgan and Chris Cagle tear it up on Saturday. Sunday, Blue Oyster Cult opens for ’80s superstar Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo.
While admission to Last Fling is free, admission to see the main stage acts is $10 Friday and $15 on Saturday and Sunday.
“On Monday, we have military appreciation day, so we dedicate that to our veterans and open up the hill for free and do a lot of patriotic entertainment,” Brown said. “In addition to that, every year we’ve grown and expanded our Family Fun Land. We put on Last Fling as a big thank-you to Naperville and the area for everything they do to support the community as well as the Jaycees; so Family Fun Land, it’s always been important to us to keep that free. So over the last couple years we’ve put more effort into growing that area.”
Other activities in the Fun Land include the Great American Duck Race, a presentation from Jim Nesci’s Cold Blooded Creatures, Jim Cruise “The Spoon Man,” the Disney Road Crew and several musical acts and martial arts demonstrations.
“There’s a lot for families to do,” she said. There will be a family-oriented business expo and crafts for children as well in the Family Fun Land.
“We have over a dozen special events throughout the weekend,” she said. “Those special events are anything from an apple pie bakeoff, Singin’ at the Fling talent show to the Diaper Derby for little kids. There’s stuff for adults too, like co-ed sand volleyball tournaments.”
Wine tasting, a rib cook-off, bed races and various eating contests are other activities grownups can enjoy, as well.
If it’s live music you’re yearning for, the free entertainment stage has local bands performing throughout the festival.
The Last Fling carnival, which has 22 rides and games, is located along Jackson Avenue between Main and Ewing streets. Mega passes will be sold for $60 at ticket booths. Back by popular demand is the dunk tank, where $5 gets you three chances to dunk a Naperville celebrity.
The fest winds down with a Labor Day parade featuring more than 100 entries, she said. The parade starts at 10 a.m. Monday and goes from Naperville North to Naperville Central high schools.
“It’s a great parade. It’s so spread out there are plenty of great spots for people to see,” she said.
This is the 33rd year the Jaycees have been running Last Fling, she said, and it has grown quite a bit over the years.
“It actually started in the Centennial Beach parking lot,” she said. “It was a one-day festival … that’s grown throughout the years. Every year it seems to grow a little bit more and change a little bit to keep up with what our community wants. We’re just really excited and ready to embrace the changes.”
People should expect lots of great music and activities for people of all ages, Brown said.
“People can take advantage of a lot of free activities,” she said. “It’s there for the community to enjoy and we work really hard to keep it that way.”