Nearly 1,675 pumpkins smashed at annual event; Edward Hospital receives ‘A’ in Leapfrog assessment; ‘Ninja Warrior’ stars to be Naperville Holiday Parade of

More than 410 families dropped of 1,674 pumpkins weighing 21,514 pounds Nov. 4 at the Naperville Park District’s annual Pumpkin Smash.

Volunteers at the Ron Ory Community Garden Plots counted and weighed the pumpkins before families smached them into the garden soil, a news release said.

The park district event was one of more than 100 other pumpkin collections in the Chicago area coordinated by SCARCE, a local environmental organization. Composting pumpkins keeps waste out of the landfill, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and creates a natural fertilizer for the soil.

Edward Hospital in Naperville received an “A” in the fall 2023 Hospital Safety Grades from The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit watchdog organization.

The hospital is part of NorthShore-Edward-Elmhurst Health. Six of the health care system’s seven eligible hospitals received an “A” rating.

Elmhurst Hospital is one of only 18 hospitals in the nation and three in Illinois to have received an A in all 24 of Leapfrog’s grading cycles since they began in spring 2012, a news release from NorthShore Edward-Elmhurst Health said.

Leapfrog assigns grades every fall and spring to 3,000 general hospitals across the country based on more than 30 national performance measures, such as errors, accidents, injuries and infections, as well as what systems are in place to prevent harm, the news release said.

For hospital grades, go to

Naperville residemnt Jue He, a piano teacher and faculty member at Benedictine University in Lisle, has been inducted into the Steinway & Sons Music Teacher Hall of Fame.

Jue He, a Naperville resident, piano teacher and faculty member at Benedictine University in Lisle, has been inducted into the Steinway & Sons Music Teacher Hall of Fame, which recognizes the work of piano educators.

She was nominated by Steinway Piano Gallery of Hinsdale. Teachers were selected for this award based on their outstanding instruction and leadership in acoustic piano education and their commitment to teaching in their community for over a decade, a news release from Steinway & Sons said.

This fall, 67 teachers from the United States and Canada were inducted into the hall of fame.

He, a pianist and educator, earned her doctoral degree from Northwestern University.

With a 25-year teaching career, He is a piano instructor and recital coach at Benedictine University and has a private piano studio that provides personalized piano instruction for students in the Naperville area.

Naperville-based IntentGen Financial Partners recently raised $90,000 at its “Casino for a Cause” fundraiser to help various Naperville-area nonprofit groups.

The financial investment firm invited its clients to a casino-themed event at which they ate and played casino games with professional dealers to benefit 14 local organizations.

Clients and guests donated $45,000 through the gathering, and IntentGen Financial matched the donations, a news release said.

Beneficiaries included 360 Youth Services, 4:13, Bridge Communities, DuPage Pads, Families Helping Families, Feed My Starving Children, Grow Wellness Foundation, Hesed House, KidsMatter, Little Friends, Loaves & Fishes, Naperville Humane Society, Naperville Responds and Strong Families/YWCA.

The firm was one of 10 financial advisory firms in the country to be named a 2023 Charitable Champion by Invest in Others.

“American Ninja Warrior" stars Jesse Labreck, left, general manager of Ultimate Ninjas in Naperville, and Chris DiGangi, co-owner of Big Time Ninjas Bolingbrook, seen here in 2018, will be the grand marshals of this year's Naperville Holiday Parade of Lights on Nov. 24.

The grand marshals of this year’s annual Holiday Parade of Lights presented by the Rotary Club of Naperville are Jesse Labreck and Chris DiGangi, stars of “American Ninja Warrior.”

The parade will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 24, in downtown Naperville.

Labreck, general manager of Ultimate Ninjas Naperville, and DiGangi, co-owner of Big Time Ninjas Bolingbrook, were finalists on the NBC show and are known for their agility and strength.

Both have captured national attention, with Labreck being the first rookie female to qualify for the event’s Las Vegas Finals and DiGangi a 12-time competitor on “American Ninja Warrior.”

The parade, held in partnership with the Downtown Naperville Alliance, helps raise money for local nonprofits that work with children; food, housing and economic security issues; and mental health awareness.

For more information, go to