The second day of the annual Naperville Jaycees Last Fling weekend didn’t start as planned on Saturday, as heavy rains swept through the area before 10 a.m., causing a number of events to be cancelled or at least postponed.
A little bit of rain returned later in the afternoon, but eventually the weather cleared a little bit and things got back to normal at Naperville’s big end-of-summer bash.
Unfortunately for Last Fling fans, the bad weather started Friday evening, with a storm and gale-force winds rolling into the city.
“With 65 mile an hour winds, we cleared (Rotary Hill) and asked people to seek shelter” during the Friday night storm, said Karen Coleman, Last Fling’s public relations and marketing chairperson. “So the event itself was at a standstill for just over an hour, an hour and 20 minutes.”
That resulted in a washout for country band Jason & The Haymakers, who had been scheduled to launch Friday night’s Main Stage entertainment. Coleman said while the group was unable to perform, headlining country star Jerrod Niemann “was able to go on as scheduled, at 8:30 p.m.”
On the free Entertainment Stage, the band Twist Of Fate “played acoustically under the tent,” Coleman said. Like Niemann, singer-songwriter Pat McCurdy “went on as scheduled, slightly after 8 o’clock,” she said.
“Everyone in the Sponsors Tent and Entertainment Tent were still able to enjoy themselves” in spite of the turbulent conditions, Coleman said.
Naperville Fire Department Capt. Rick Zakaras said his agency “had two or three ambulance calls” Friday night on the Last Fling grounds, and one person was taken Saturday by ambulance to Edward Hospital in Naperville for treatment of an unspecified condition. Zakaras said none of the incidents proved to be life-threatening.
No bed races
One of the major victims of the weather Saturday morning was the popular bed races at the event.
The annual Naperville Jaycees Last Fling weekend offers a slew of traditional events that visitors look forward to experiencing each year, including the bed races.
“It’s a combination of competitiveness, people dressed up in crazy costumes, and the fact that anything can happen,” said this year’s chairman of the bed races Paul Nottoli. “We’ve been doing this for at least 10 years, and we’re hoping to increase the number of participants during future Last Fling weekends.”
This year’s event was supposed to feature a total of six teams who would race in the parking lot located behind the Naper Settlement at the corner of Porter and Weber. Teams included Community Christian Church, the Young Professionals of the Naperville Chamber, St. Patrick’s Residence, the Naperville Jaycees, South Team, and Dr. Cathy Subber with Advanced Health of Naperville and Cafe and Play.
Subber said she learned by 9:45 Saturday morning that the race this year wasn’t going to happen.
“I was working at my business practice this morning and a couple of friends came over and got the bed,” Subber said. “It’s all soaking wet now and we’re just going to have to haul it back to my house and store it in the garage. It’s been there since last year and my kids have been beating it up. This is by far one of my favorite events of the summer, and the only thing I’ve learned from doing this twice already is that I was going to finish in last place.”
Previous organizer of the bed race Jeff Ross posted the cancellation on Facebook Saturday morning, Subber said. She added that the jam-packed schedule for Last Fling and the logistics needed to set up the race and coordinate volunteers to set up hay bales and other safety measures made rescheduling impossible.
Coleman said that despite a full schedule of events from a pie-baking contest, to a balloon dodge and performance by an Irish dance group, Fling events would continue or be cancelled on an as needed basis.
“Of course public safety is our first concern and if race courses are wet or there is lightning, we have to cancel those things,” she said.
Here comes the sun
Rains poured heavily until around 11:45 a.m. Saturday and then folks began poking their heads out like turtles from their shells.
“I’ve not been to Last Fling before because I just moved here six months ago,” said Richard Boniya, who noted that he lived within walking distance of downtown Naperville. “I see the rain is letting up, and I’d like to see what this is all about.”
Adam Schultz of Plainfield and his girlfriend Kalan Fabsits, also from Plainfield, admitted that they, too, had never experienced Last Fling but were willing to give it a shot.
“I thinking having an end-of-the-summer shindig is a great idea,” Schultz noted. “We actually came down here just looking for something to eat, and personally, I love carnival food.:
Patty Miski and her family from Woodridge already got an early start on things at the fest on Saturday.
“We’ve already done a lot of things here like riding the Ferris wheel and some kid rides and we had a lot to eat in the covered area under the bridge,” Miski said.
Last Fling continues through Monday in downtown Naperville.