The Naperville Salute is open all weekend with music and family fun

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The Naperville Salute is back for its third year at Rotary Hill. The four-day hometown festival kicked off on Friday, offering family fun over the Fourth of July weekend.

“The whole point of the Naperville Salute is to honor and celebrate our veterans and our active military men and women,” said Naperville Salute Chair Michele Clemen. “This is really a way for us to kick off the Independence Day weekend and celebrate our independence.”

Food and music offered at Naper Salute

The fest has food offerings from many Naperville favorites.

“We have a lot of local food vendors, we have John’s Ribs, who often will be over at Naper Nights as well,” said Clemen. “We have Chef Tyrell with Dark Horse Pastries, we have Sal who’s doing tacos and we’ve got JoJo’s Shake Bar and Kona Ice for all your dessert needs.”

And there’s also live music, which runs from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Monday, as well as from noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday.

“We have a great lineup of music, so we have This End Up, who’s warming up right now, they’re our kickoff band for the weekend,” said Clemen. “We also have a full country day tomorrow, July 1, and then a wide mix for the rest of the weekend. Ending up with Whiskey Romance on Monday and Sunday night’s headliner is ARRA, so a little bit of classic rock. We got pop and house party music, so a little bit of everything for everyone.”

Family fun area

A family fun area is stationed at the top of Rotary Hill, giving people of all ages a chance to enjoy a number of activities.

“We’ve got face painting, exotic animals, we have the service organizations up there, so I’m sure they’ve got some obstacle courses and some pull-up challenges and things like that,” said Clemen. “So a little bit of everything for everyone there too.”

Naper Salute’s Ruck March

Another event from the Naperville Salute is the Ruck March. The march will be held at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning at the Riverwalk Grand Pavilion, located at 912 Honorary Sindt Memorial Court.

Participants can walk or march the five-mile layout, and most ruckers usually wear a weighted backpack for fitness purposes. Sign-up information can be found on the Naperville Salute website.

What is Naperville Responds For Veterans?

Naperville Responds for Veterans has hosted the Naperville Salute since 2021, as a fundraiser for its mission to support area veterans.

The local nonprofit is known for helping veterans and their families, especially those with moderate and low income, by building, fixing, or donating homes.

“So we’re handling the essential ADA accessibility, repairing roofs, broken windows, things that are truly essential to have a safe home to live in,” said Naperville Responds for Veterans President, Dan Jurjovec. “We feel like the veterans we help are the most deserving, and as I mentioned it’s a privilege to do it and our entire board has that passion.”

Naperville Responds for Veterans has been around since 2009. It started as a response to a natural disaster. But seeing a need and finding a passion for volunteering, the group grew.

“It’s actually a transition from a group that started home improvement repair in response to Hurricane Katrina,” said Jurjovec. “So seeing as that’s a singular event obviously, they wanted to be able to continue to do something, and helping veterans seemed like the most worthy cause, and with a construction background, 14 years later, here we are.”

How to show support

People can get involved with Naperville Responds for Veterans by visiting the volunteer page on its website. But the most immediate way to show support, Dan says, is to head out to the Salute.

“How you can get involved is to come out to Salute, bring your family, and enjoy Independence Day,” said Jurjovec. “Say thank you to a veteran when you see them walking around with their service-connected hats on. It means a lot to them when you look them in the eye and thank them for their service.”

The Naperville Salute runs June 30 through July 3 at Rotary Hill and along the Riverwalk. Veterans and active military personnel may attend for free. A full list of times, activities, and bands, along with ticket information, is available on the Naper Salute website.

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