Sponsors pitch in for Duluth Lions Club Pancake Day
Alex Grajnert ate his pile of pancakes surrounded by coworkers. "On our walk over here I found out they've been buying our tickets for 30 years," he said of Duluth Energy Systems, the city-owned steam plant. "It makes for a nice little break." Fo...
Alex Grajnert ate his pile of pancakes surrounded by coworkers.
"On our walk over here I found out they've been buying our tickets for 30 years," he said of Duluth Energy Systems, the city-owned steam plant. "It makes for a nice little break."
For 60 years the first Thursday of May in the city has been Duluth Lions Club Pancake Day. Much about the tradition is static - the smell of hotcakes wafting through the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, the volunteers hustling to refill coffee cups.
But there's one dynamic element that's inescapable. Grajnert and company ate at the Adolphson Real Estate table, and visitors could get their cakes at any number of grills: the Keystone Bluffs grill, the Duluth Transit Authority grill, the Holiday grill, the Comfort Systems grill and so on.
"That was the original idea," said Lion Jim Pratt, who came up with the notion to sell sponsorships a few years ago. "We wanted to put a name on everything - like a NASCAR racecar."
Businesses and organizations used to help the all-day pancake feed by supplying it with hordes of volunteers. They still do. Midmorning featured a host of University of Minnesota Duluth football players running round, and men and women in military garb working the composting station. Earlier, Pratt said, an entire team from the local contractor, Jamar Co., worked in service to the cause.
But the event that serves hot-griddled batter to roughly 10,000 people annually reached a point in recent years, Pratt said, that required it to call for sponsors.
"We found that the community is gracious," Lion Daryl Harper said. "They want to help out."
Sponsorship dollars offset the costs that go into feeding an army of Northlanders. The goal for the Lions is to keep ticket costs to a minimum and to spin all of those dollars back into community service projects.
"We're not there yet," Pratt said, "but we're getting close."
For Joan and Jack Vranish, of Virginia, it only seemed to enhance the spirit of the event. For many years Jack's uncle, Chuck Puchreiter, was the event's top ticket-seller until his death in 2001.
"He was the kingpin of pancakes," Joan said. "We try to make it every year. It's a wonderful production. The community works hard for all of this."