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Still flipping after all these years

DeWitt Rotary Club prepares for 60th annual Pancake Day

DeWitt Rotarian Dave Schneckenburger serves pancakes to hungry customers at the rotary club’s Pancake Day in 2013. This year, the DeWitt Rotary Club is holding its 60th annual Pancake Day on May 10 at Shoppingtown Mall.

DeWitt Rotarian Dave Schneckenburger serves pancakes to hungry customers at the rotary club’s Pancake Day in 2013. This year, the DeWitt Rotary Club is holding its 60th annual Pancake Day on May 10 at Shoppingtown Mall. Allie Wenner

— The work for Pancake Day begins almost six months prior to the event, usually around the beginning of December. Arrangements for a refrigerator truck, tent rentals and media outreach are all aspects that the rotary club tackles early on to ensure that Pancake Day goes as smoothly as possible.

But, unsurprisingly, the most time-consuming days are those closest to the event itself. Strodel said that’s not uncommon for many Rotarians to spend four to six hours setting up for Pancake Day on the day before and ten to 12 hours working the event and cleaning up on that Saturday.

“There’s a saying that I personally think says it all, and it is, ‘Service above self,’” Strodel said. “And if you ask any Rotarian… it really sums up the way people feel. It’s not about me, it’s about serving the community.”

On Pancake Day, you’ll find Rotarians and community volunteers working together to take guests’ tickets, make pancake batter, flipping the pancakes, make sausages, clearing tables and picking up garbage. Strodel said that without volunteers including the Boy Scouts and students from Manlius Pebble Hill and the Jamesville-DeWitt School District, the event wouldn’t be possible.

“It’s a well-oiled machine, but you don’t just snap your fingers and it’s done – there are a lot of little things that have to be taken care of,” he said.

Changes over time

Most DeWitt Rotarians still know and joke about one of the first Pancake Days – and the only year that the event was held somewhere besides Shoppingtown Mall.

“One of the first ones was held in the basement of DeWitt Community Church,” said 46-year DeWitt Rotary member Joe McCarthy. “But the joke that went around for years was that the pancake fragrance never left the church. So Pancake Day was on Saturday and the church service was on Sunday, and let’s just say that everybody knew there had been pancakes. I don’t think it was held there again.”

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