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Kiwanis Club celebrates 60 years of flipping pancakes

March 17, 2019

HUNTINGTON — Ray Abraham said he’s flipped more than 120,000 pancakes since he became involved with the Kiwanis Club of East Huntington’s annual flapjack festival more than 50 years ago.

Abraham, 91, has become a recognizable face at the organization’s Pancake Festival, which celebrated its 60th anniversary Saturday. The event, hosted at the New Baptist Church in Huntington, serves as the main fundraising source for the organization. The Kiwanis Club of East Huntington, an organization that sponsors several community groups and charities, expected to feed more than 3,000 people before the festival’s end.

Abraham said there’s no secret to making the perfect hotcake. The real skill comes after making thousands of pancakes over the years, he said. That includes making 18 pancakes at once or flipping a pancake off the griddle and catching it on a plate behind his back.

The annual festival is vital to the organization’s fundraising goals, he said, which would be impossible without the many volunteers and sponsors who donate time and money.

Money raised during the event helps the Kiwanis Club of East Huntington support community programs such as River Park Hospital’s Bridge Program, the John W. Hereford Boys and Girls Clubs, TEAM for West Virginia children, Huntington City Mission, Facing Hunger Foodbank, Ronald McDonald House, Barboursville Veterans Home and Recovery Point, among others.

Abraham said it’s a blessing the organization has been able to give back to the community with the festival for 60 years and running.

“It’s overwhelming the kind of support we get for just this one-day event,” he said.

The festival, which was open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., frequently saw lines starting from the church’s parking lot, through the chapel and into the large dining area.

It takes multiple pallets of pancake batter and gallons of syrup to feed all those hungry people, said Sherry Kyle, the club’s secretary.

Kyle said her favorite thing about the festival is it’s become a gathering place for many families and groups of friends.

Some of them only get together once a year to eat pancakes together.

John and Glenda Ward, of Huntington, said they’ve attended the festival for at least five years. On Saturday they brought their 8-year-old granddaughter, Payton Perry. The festival was practically made for Perry because she eats pancakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, John Ward said.

Sandy Mauk, assistant secretary and treasurer of the Huntington Kiwanis Club, volunteered by pouring syrup into bottles for all the dining room tables. The event is aided by more than 90 volunteers who help organize beforehand and then help clean up the mess.

She said her favorite thing was seeing families with smiling children, many she recognized from the Kiwanis Day Care of Huntington.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.