“Pancake Day” began in 1955. It is held on the first Saturday in May at Festival Hall from 6:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Record attendance stands at 11,000. The menu features sausage and all the pancakes that you’d care to eat.
The event is sponsored by The Kiwanis Club of Greater Racine and gains help from some 200 volunteers, mostly local high school students. Even local to national politicians are pressed into service. Local talent, mostly from the high schools, provides a variety of entertainment throughout most of the day.
Over the last half-century, Pancake Day has become one of Racine’s most well-know and treasured traditions. It is different things to different people. For the club, it is their fund-raiser to support child and youth programs throughout the community. It is a chance for members to fellowship with themselves and their community, and to provide and join in a community celebration. It too, becomes a physical fitness challenge after 10 or so hours with several still to go.
For the community it may be just breakfast, lunch, dinner, or any combination up to all of the above. For a more social humanitarian, one must come between 9:00 and 12:00, when the line may meander for a block or more, and as you move first through it and then beyond you renew friendships with many whom you may not have seen since last year. If your pace is hurried, have breakfast before 8:00 or after 1:00 when supply keeps up with demand. For some it may be the quick early morning breakfast before the boat launch in search of salmon, trout, and the return with great new fish stories to share. It may be the extra excuse needed to jet down to see the art and craft show, or enjoy the entertainment in the hall and brag about someone on stage; a friend, a child, or a grandchild.
As with most traditions, things started small. Eventually engineers in the club sought to upgrade the production system. The result, four home engineered and built machines. They feature five foot diameter rotating aluminum decks, gas heated from above and below. When the new Festival Hall was designed and built, it had accommodations for the machines and production layout. In 2000, the machines were upgraded with computerized controls. These are the club’s pride and joy.
Pancake Day takes place at Festival Hall on the Lake Michigan shore in the reviving downtown Racine.
Come join us for a Racine happening!