RACINE — For 64 years, each May has brought Kiwanis Pancake Day, a feast of pancakes and sausages with entertainment, the Kiwanis Club of Greater Racine’s sole fundraiser.
But the club has decided to disband at year’s end, putting the future of Pancake Day in doubt.
“After much discussion, there was a motion that was one vote shy of being unanimous that we should not do another Pancake Day and disband our club at the end of the calendar year,” club President Randy Savaglio wrote in an email. “… This was a hard thing to do for all of us, but we’ve seen it coming for some time.”
The Kiwanis Club of Greater Racine, currently with 28 members, is one of three local Kiwanis clubs. The reason for its coming dissolution is “mostly a factor of age,” said board member Jerry Andersen. When he joined in 1990 the club had between 50 and 60 members, he said.
“Younger people, for various reasons, are not joining service clubs,” Andersen said.
And Kiwanis International does not allow clubs to merge, Savaglio said. “I believe some of us will join other Kiwanis clubs,” he added.
Since the early years, Pancake Day has always been held on the first Saturday in May. “It was like a rite of spring for Racine,” Andersen remarked.
In the earlier years it was held at Memorial Hall and drew a peak of more than 11,000 people during the 1970s, Andersen said. Later the event was moved to Festival Hall, and even in recent years Pancake Day drew 4,600 to 4,800.
That would net the club about $14,000 to $16,000, Savaglio said. Kiwanis used the money strictly for numerous youth-orientated causes including the Girl Scouts, scholarships for seniors and donations for playground equipment at Jerstad-Agerholm Elementary School.
The Kiwanis Club of Greater Racine has talked with the Kiwanis Club of West Racine about possibly taking on Pancake Day, and it’s under consideration, Andersen said. If that club or any other service organization were to adopt the annual fundraiser, the Kiwanis who have been running the event would lend their expertise in that first year, he said.
“It would be great to find a group that wants to keep that tradition alive,” Andersen said. “Things change, and I understand that, but it’s nice to hang onto a few things from your past.”
If any local service club is interested in discussing the possibility of taking over Pancake Day, they may call Savaglio at 262-994-2738.