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Annual Pancake Day coming soon

It doesn’t take an army to whip up nearly 1,400 pancakes in one morning. The United Methodist Men do it about seven hours.

On Feb. 13, they’ll hold their 52nd annual Pancake Day fundraiser at Clanton First United Methodist Church. Starting bright and early at 5:30 a.m. in the Helen Parrish Activity Center, Chilton County residents can file in for all the pancakes they can fit into their stomachs, not to mention the sausage.

Event chairman Dan Nolen loves Pancake Day for reasons other than syrup and batter.

He’s pledged many years to service through the Methodist Men and this event in particular to give back to his community, and he won’t stop, either. With prouder eyes each year, he looks upon the outpour of support from county citizens who pack the church gym to eat all they can and give just enough.

“The blessing is mine,” Nolen said. “We’re accomplishing something good here. We’re able to give back to the community whatever we get out of it.”

At $4 per ticket, it’s a relatively cheap breakfast for an individual. But with attendance stretching well over 1,000 people, the number certainly adds up.

Last year, a record crowd of more than 1,300 lined up for a plateful of pancakes and sausage. It was the event’s 51st year, and the second consecutive year for a new attendance record.

Nolen sees no reason to change the format, given the half-century success of it so far. People love it because it’s the same every year.

“We hope it’s the same event because it’s worked good over the past 52 years,” he said. “Last year was our best year of all. We’ve already given out 1,500 tickets this year.”

He said every Methodist Man was asked to sell a minimum of 20 tickets. Judging by that number, they should have printed more.

The Methodist Men work a dry run the Friday night before each Pancake Day to ensure things go smoothly the following morning.

Just a few hours later, at 5:30 a.m., the real show starts. Nolen said 10 men usually come in at midnight to grill the sausage ahead of time, which takes between four and five hours.

Syrup is donated by the Alaga Whitfield Company, and pancake mix is donated by Howard Thomas.

Clanton First United Methodist associate pastor Brian Dovey said the event couldn’t possibly exist without the hard work from the Methodist Men.

“It’s successful because of the effort put in by the Men, who really get the word out,” Dovey said. “It’s supporting good causes. The pancakes aren’t bad either.”

Church public relations director Marsha Littleton stressed the importance of Pancake Day as social and philanthropic for the community.

“This is a historic day in the county,” she said. “It’s just like a family reunion but with everyone in the county. People come from miles away to socialize and meet each other there. The price is right, the food is good and the cause is excellent.”

Littleton said she’s happy to see how much fun the Methodist Men tend to have as they put the event together.

Hopefully the cool weather will sustain so people’s pancake appetite won’t soon run out. Nolen said cloudy, damp days are perfect for pancakes.

“They taste better when it’s cold,” he said. “We don’t want a real warm and sunny day. That’s bad for pancakes.”

He said it’s a great February meal, especially with Valentine’s Day right around the corner.

“You can take your sweetheart out for a good meal for just $4,” he said.

The event benefits several causes throughout Chilton County and other parts of Alabama. Along with this county’s towns, the Methodist Men have also donated to families in Enterprise and Calera.

In the past, it has benefited Eagle Scout projects and organizations like Raleigh’s Place. It always depends on who needs the help.

“It’s a community-wide event for Chilton County,” he said. “It’s old. People know what they’re going to get. We try and make it a positive event for everyone. People don’t come just to eat. They visit with one another. Hopefully it’ll just be another fun day.”

The event begins at 5:30 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m. on Feb. 13.