At 6 a.m. there was already a crowd of people ready, tickets in hand, to get their once-a-year fix of pancakes and sausage.
“For the last 35 years we’ve had the same crowd come at 6 in the morning,” said the club’s current president, Mark Eubanks, with a laugh.
By 8 a.m. the parking lot at Rome’s Civic Center was packed and then some for the Noon Optimist Club’s annual pancake breakfast. There were cars lining the roads and filling up the parking further up the hill.
There was drive through service as well, as volunteers performing valet duty for those who would find difficulty making the walk.
Kraig Ingalsbe, this year’s event coordinator and the Noon Optimist Club’s president-elect, said even though it’s a busy morning, it isn’t anything compared with the day before.
They had to bring in and prepare about 600 pounds of sausage and 500 pounds of pancake mix, along with getting all the equipment, tables and chairs ready for the Saturday morning crowd.
And the preparation showed. Lines flowed smoothly even during the peak hours.
“We were setting up all day yesterday,” Ingalsbe said. “The sausage guys started the fire at 3 a.m. this morning.”
But the preparation and early morning hours pay off. The club’s single fundraising event brings in a gross amount of about $30,000 for the club.
This money goes to fund or assist with programs like Cops for Kids, The Harbor House, Students of the Month and Students of the Year and scholarships, as well as the Georgia Highlands College Foundation Camp.
Eubanks said the fundraiser is in its 52nd year and is the only major fundraiser for the Noon Optimists.
“One-hundred percent of the money raised stays in the community,” Eubanks said.
Without corporate sponsors and donations, Ingalsbe said, they couldn’t do it.
“We are so successful because we have such a large list of corporate donors and sponsors,” Eubanks said.
The Noon Optimist Club meets every Monday at State Mutual Stadium at 11:45 a.m., Eubanks said. The public is welcome to attend regular meetings.
52nd annual Noon Optimist Club Pancake Breakfast
By the Numbers
600 pounds of sausage
500 pounds of pancake mix