Kiwanis Club kicks off annual Pancake Days

MARIETTA – Swarms of hungry locals sat down to stacks of hot pancakes and sausage Friday as the Marietta Kiwanis Club kicked off the 60th anniversary edition of its annual Pancake Days.

The event continues today from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 318 Front St., Marietta. The cost is $5 in advance and $8 at the door.

Volunteers from Kiwanis-sponsored groups of all ages cleared tables and poured out hot coffee as a packed First Congregational Church enjoyed good company, breakfast for dinner and a large display of basket raffle items, all to benefit Kiwanis Club.

Whether a pancake lover or just there to help out, attendees and volunteers alike said they were excited that the popular event was a chance to not only enjoy a hot meal on a winter day, but to do it all in benefit of the service that Kiwanis has performed for 60 years.

“We always want to support the community,” said Lou Whitney, a Marietta resident who finds himself with wife Jan at Pancake Days most times it comes around. “Kiwanis does good work.”

President-elect and Pancake Days chair Chad Gardner said he was pleased that the steady lunch he witnessed early on in the day had translated to a busy dinner, and he knew that today, with the silent auction ending, that the crowd would be even larger.

“We did more to-go orders this year than ever before,” he said, as Kiwanis did more advertising to give it as an option to busier patrons.

Marilyn Scharff, a Kiwanis member, said they are always pleased with the turnout.

“It’s our main project, so we use these funds for the entire year,” Scharff said, noting that Kiwanis expect about $20,000 to be made off the event. “And it all gets to go back to the community.”

Even before the dinner period began at 5 p.m. people were lined up to eat.

As the club’s primary fundraising project, the funds raised go toward a number of Kiwanis’ service projects.

Storybook Park, a popular program sponsored by Kiwanis and held by the Washington County Public Library, gives children the opportunity to hear stories, do crafts and receive a free book in Muskingum Park. It’s one of the biggest recipients of the funds raised from Pancake Days.

Fundraising also goes toward the Red Cross’s “Sunday Funday,” a youth carnival for families and children to learn about public health and wellness themes; the annual Relay For Life event that Kiwanis takes part in; and the Eliminate Project, a Kiwanis project aimed at ending worldwide maternal and neonatal tetanus.

“We’ve only ever missed, I think one of these,” said Joe Crone, who was one of the first groups in with his children. “We like the pancakes, and we like to support Kiwanis.”

Scharff said during the 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. lunchtime Friday about 275 people came in, a big number considering it would most likely be the “slowest” time out of the weekend.

“We come as often as we can, and our grandson is in Key Club, so we get to see him too,” Jan Whitney said.

In honor of Marietta Kiwanis’ 60th anniversary, Pancake Days featured a 60/40 raffle, so rather than a traditional 50/50, the winner will take home 60 percent of the money raised while Kiwanis will take home 40 percent. The raffle, along with the silent auction results, will be announced this evening.