A hot day on Monday, September 4th, made for the perfect backdrop to say a final farewell to summer at the Naperville Jaycee’s Last Fling Labor Day Parade 2023. The parade, which attracted thousands of spectators to Downtown Naperville, included over 5o participants from local schools, performing arts groups, and more! Acting as emcees for the parade, Jodi Bernicky, Sponsorship Chair of the Naperville Jaycees was joined by Kaylin Risvold, President and CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce to introduce each entry, and Ron Keller was chosen as the parade’s grand marshal. Keller, who retired this year after 57 years as Director of the Naperville Municipal Band, has a long-running history of supporting the Jaycees – he even wrote them their own song in 2003 titled “March of the Jaycees”.
Parade participants keep things “cool” despite the heat
The 95 degree weather did not stop eager parade-goers from enjoying all the festivities had to offer. Noteworthy participants included the Mayor of Naperville Scott Wehrli and the Naperville City Council. This year’s Last Fling Parade marks the first Wehrli has participated in as the Mayor of Naperville, a milestone which he was excited for stating, “The Last Fling parade has become a cherished tradition, bringing together families, friends, and neighbors to celebrate the end of summer. The annual tradition is an embodiment of the vibrant spirit and unity that defines our beloved community.”
Grand Marshal Ron Keller was honored for his dedication as the longtime director of the Naperville Municipal Band, an organization he has been involved in since 1951. The Naperville Municipal Band’s performance in the parade acted both as a farewell to summer as well as a send-off to Keller as he steps down as director. In addition to the Naperville Municipal Band’s participation, the parade also featured marching bands from many area schools; Naperville Central, Waubonsie Valley, Metea Valley, Neuqua Valley, Naperville North, and Benet Academy.
Also participating in the parade was the Naperville Fire Department with Naperville’s Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis. They showcased 3 fire engines: Engine 10, Aherns Fox Engine, and the Joe Naper Engine, spraying water down the street as they passed by.
Last Fling entertains families
Following the parade, the Last Fling festival was in full swing, offering food, carnival attractions, and live entertainment to parade spectators. Some of the attractions included; an improv comedy show, a reptile presentation, a mermaid princess sing-along, and a spaghetti eating contest. The event, which was free to attend, spans Labor Day weekend and acts as the Naperville Jaycee’s main fundraising event of the year. The money raised is then generously given back to community organizations through donations and acts of philanthropy. The Naperville Jaycees were formed as a means to get young people involved in volunteerism. The organization prides itself in forming the future leaders of our community through devotion to philanthropic causes and community involvement. Collectively, the Jaycees have given back more than 2 million dollars to the community through their fundraising efforts.
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