GOSHEN — Organizers are celebrating five decades of “Pancake Day” this week.
The Salvation Army Pancake Day will take place for the 50th time Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. at The Salvation Army, 1013 N. Main St., Goshen. Tickets are $5 until Thursday or $6 at the door for the all-you-can-eat pancake and sausage event.
“It’s a yearly family gathering of the community,” Salvation Army Maj. Allen Hanton said.
This year’s Pancake Day will be dedicated to the memory of Robert “Bob” Yost, who played a vital part in many of the previous pancake days with his wife, Marge, Hanton said.
According to Hanton, the original Pancake Day took place Dec. 2, 1964 at the Lunch Room of the Plain and Fancy Restaurant as a way to help raise funds for assisting those in need, be it food, medication or utility assistance.
According to Hanton, there were more than 1,000 people served during the 14-hour event in the 1970s that was held at many locations. And now more than 2,100 people attend in the Salvation Army’s own facility.
“It’s amazing to see how it has grown in the last 40 years,” he said. “This is our (Hanton and his wife, Maj. Karen Hanton) third pancake day and each year we marvel at how it becomes a community event.”
Last year, more than $60,000 was raised, and local Salvation Army officials hope for $70,000 for this year with the addition of corporate sponsors, table sponsors and ticket sales, Hanton added.
As part of the first shift which begins at 3:30 a.m. until the next shift comes in at 5:30 a.m., Hanton’s wife helps cook some of the 10 cases of sausages supplied by Troyer Foods in Goshen.
“We say ‘Welcome’ at 6 a.m. when we open the doors,” Hanton said. “It’s interesting to see who is waiting in line to eat. It comes in waves. City employees are usually first, then a coffee klatch will come in and eat with us rather than where they usually meet for coffee. We are serving all the time. It’s nothing to see police and firemen come to eat pancakes and sausage and not be on call. Families share their breakfast and dinners together on this day.”
Hanton has been an officer in the Salvation Army for 19 years and says Pancake Day is the only event he has seen “of this magnitude” with the involvement and support of the local community and most service organizations in Goshen.
“You may get pancakes or sausage from your insurance man, who is in Kiwanis, or you may have your place setting cleared by your dentist, who is in Rotary,” Hanton said. “The pancakes are prepared by the Exchange Club of Elkhart County and sausages cooked by the Community Church of Waterford. The VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) greets you as you pull into the parking lot and give you a golf cart ride up to the front door. Pancake Day is also assisted by the Optimists and area Lions.”
Between Pancake Day and the fundraising done at Christmas, The Salvation Army raises a majority of the money used for its programs for the year, added John Huber, chairman of the Pancake Day committee.
“The more we are able to raise now,” Huber said, “will be that much more The Salvation Army will be able to use later in the year to help our neighbors.”