Lake Bluff’s upcoming 4th of July celebration will mark the 40th anniversary of the Lake Bluff-Lake Forest Kiwanis 4th of July Pancake Breakfast, which will be served from 6:30-9:45 a.m July 4 in the Village Green.
Since its beginning in 1972, the event has become a cornerstone of the village’s 4th of July festivities.
The breakfast was the brain child of then club president Dick Roman and members including Dean Holm and Tom Olson, who thought it would be a great method for raising funds for charity. Over the years, more than $75,000 has been raised to benefit local charities. More than 800 breakfasts have been served each year, amounting to more than 32,000 in 40 years.
The 1972 event did not enjoy the tactical expertise that will guide this year’s program. Kiwanis began the event with no equipment. Holm recalled that grills were borrowed from the Boy Scouts and tables were borrowed from the Union Church. Olson has served as master of batter preparation for every breakfast.
He said that early in the first event they ran out of batter. Members had to rush to their homes to gather up whatever they had because the stores were closed. In the early days, Marv Hackbarth, proprietor of the Village Market, gave the club space for mixing the batter. In recent years, Inovasi has provided the space.
Phil Minorini, proprietor of the service station that stood at the corner of Sheridan Road and Scranton, provided one of the oil changing bays for members like Tom Killian to brew the coffee. Gordon Lackie flipped the pancakes.
Since that time many local businesses have stepped up with support for the event. Currently, The Daily Grind, Starbucks, Sunset Foods and McDonald's provide Kiwanis with batter, sausage, coffee, syrup and orange juice for the event. In addition, succeeding generations of Kiwanians have taken over the pancake flipping, serving, and other duties.
There have been some stressful events over the years, but, as Dave Bentley noted, the breakfast has never been rained out. He recalled that one year the skies threatened all morning, but held off only to drench the parade following the breakfast with 2 inches of rain.
Holm recalled several other threats that challenged the Kiwanis team. The coffee ran out early one time, for example, and members had to calm the troops of caffeine seekers who were getting restless until replenishments arrived. At other times Kiwanians had to make mad dashes to replenish supplies of orange juice and other condiments.
Holm again remembered running out of sausage one year. The club made an immediate decision to drop the price of the breakfast to compensate. Pete Porett said the year Kiwanis rented a truck to move chairs and tables from the Union Church. The truck was loaded at the Church and as Porett pulled away, everyone noticed smoke coming up from under the vehicle’s hood.
The Lake Bluff police and fire departments responded even as they were preparing for the Firemen’s ball. The fully loaded truck was then towed to the Gurnee rental agency and a transfer of furniture was made to a replacement truck. The table and chair set up was completed after midnight and Kiwanians still had to post for breakfast duty at 5:30 that morning.
Kiwanis is constantly trying to improve the event each year. Holm, for example, said that the biggest logistic challenge over the years has been the length of the lines that develop during peak demand times. Last year’s event solved the problem by instituting two lines.
Information provided by Marc Wallace