“Focused on Pancake Day 2020” Theme for Pancake Day Parade

The Liberal Rotary Club is now taking entries for the 71st International Pancake Day Parade. This year’s theme is “Focused on Pancake Day 2020”. The parade will start at 3 pm from Light Park and is the final event of the International Pancake Day celebration on February 25th, 2020.
The annual parade starts at the corner of 11th and Kansas Avenue and ends at the intersection of Kansas Avenue and Trail Street. Parade participants will be assigned spots in and around Light Park.  There will be prizes in each of 5 divisions. First prize in each division will earn $150, second $100, and third garners a prize of $50. Entries will enter in one of the following 5 divisions: Commercial, Non-Profit Organizations, Schools, Antique Automobiles and Equipment, and Motorized Vehicles. Each year we select three judges that will review parade entries and score them on originality, creativity, and effort.  Items such as candy and toys may be given out along the parade route, but we ask that none of the items are thrown into the crowd for every ones safety.
Royce Kitts, Rotary Club member and Parade Chair said, “After we receive your entry, you will be emailed a detailed map and instructions 2-3 days prior to the parade. Each entry is responsible for its own signs and other items for identification during the parade. We would like everyone in the parade to be mindful of this year’s parade theme, “Focused on Pancake Day 2020” and incorporate it into their entry. The parade is always fun and some of the past entries are long remembered, such as Buddy Heaton riding his buffalo in the parade, the Rainbow Bread truck and it’s miniature loaves of bread, fly over by Lyddon Aero, That Liberal Band along with the West and South Junior High Bands, Chief and Princess Satanta, local and state officials, and great support from the local churches, civic clubs, car clubs and the City of Liberal and Seward County.”  Anyone that needs additional information should call Royce Kitts at 785-223-3006 or go to www.pancakeday.net. Entry forms may be picked up at the Memorial Library, Pancake Day Hall of Fame or online at our website.

Pancake Day 2020 Chairman Mike Brack talks about the upcoming Pancake Day festivities

January 6th, 2020 kicked off Mardi Gras in the United States. What does that mean to us here in Liberal, KS? Well, it gives us a short amount of time to apply the finishing touches done to our annual International Pancake Day (IPD) festivities. The dedicated IPD Board has been hard at work preparing for the 71st IPD for over the past ten months. This year, due to some Board Member changes and event issues, the schedule of events this year have changed a bit; but regardless, IPD will be a fun filled time for all of us in the area to celebrate everything pancakes! Things certainly have changed since the first running of IPD back in 1950 and will for sure change with the times. But what won’t change is the international camaraderie and good sportsmanship that we have created with our friends in Olney, England.  The Board and I are looking forward to having the community join us as we celebrate the Shriving season with pancakes as we prepare to observe the Lenten season leading up to Easter.

The 71st IPD will be my third term as General Chairman (GC). Due to several conflicts, Gary Classen was not able to take over the GC duties from Greg Bird last year. Gary is a long time IPD Board member and has served as GC previously in 2002 & 2003. He continues to serve as Vice Chairman, orchestrates the school contests, and manages all of the merchandise sales. Gary will again assume the GC duties for 2021 & 2022. My duties as GC are made much easier thanks to the dedication of all the board members as well as the countless volunteer hours from the many church, social, civic, city and county members. It takes a plethora of support to make IPD happen each year.

While we greatly miss the presence of Jo Ann Combs, Executive Secretary, who passed away in 2018, the ever changing board has adjusted to her absence.  We certainly miss all of the previous members that have moved away and we still miss Jo Ann who took care of many things behind the scenes.  Our newest Board Members include Sarah Thompson who recently returned home to Liberal and has taken on the duties of publicity. Sarah handles getting the word out about schedules, events, and IPD history to newspapers, radio stations and on social media.  Leslie Bissell also joined the board last year. She assumed the duties of Board Secretary and created the 2020 program book as well as tackling the challenge of organizing and inventorying the many gift shop items at the hall of Fame with the help from members of the Cimarron River Valley Chapter of the Daughter’s of the American Revolution and Woman Valor, New Beginnings Church.

Our seasoned Board members include Board Treasurer, Kenia Mendez. She not only keeps our financial records in order, but also sold our advertisement ads for 2020 program book. The Pancake Day Breakfast is our largest event where we plan on serving around 1,200 people every year. Marvin Billings and his fellow Noon Kiwanis members do a remarkable job getting set up, getting breakfast related donations, and getting those griddles warmed up early to begin flipping a LOT of pancakes for everyone. Marvin has been helping cook at the breakfast for many years. He also spends a fair amount of time maintaining the griddles throughout the year. Ronna Stump, our race chairwoman and past GC in 2016 & 2017 has made sure all the races from the little kids all the way up to the international race are orchestrated perfectly. From sign ups, to getting the race course details lined out with the city crews and making sure we have all the medals and trophies ordered in time, Ronna keeps pretty busy. Our Baby Cakes Award and postal cancelation is headed up by past GC Jan Nondorf.  Jan is the only Board member who has raced in the international race twice and the last chance race three times.  Jan is a wealth of information about the previous festivities. Toni Smith has assisted the Board with race winner prizes and hosting the Dignitary Reception for the past several years at Baker Arts Center.  This year, Toni is handing off the duties to the staff at Baker Arts Center to facilitate the reception now known as the Grand Marshal’s Reception. Laura Oyler, daughter of Rosalee Phillips, previous Executive Secretary, will be collecting items for the prizes baskets for the IPD race winners. We so appreciate that past GC Jack Jacob is continuing to keep our website up and in good order even after he relocated to a new church in Walters, Oklahoma.  Tim Fowler, past GC and longest serving board member, returns every year to help with many different details too numerous to list.  If you see a banner at any of the events, you can bet that Tim helped get it there.  He and his wife Arla now reside in Wichita, but we are glad that they still come back to visit family and help out for IPD.  Sally Fuller has been a big supporter and long time IPD board member. Sally always promotes IPD through her job as Tourism Director for the City of Liberal, but her biggest job is handling the breakfast that we host in Topeka for the legislators and staff. Sally is always willing to help anywhere she is needed on Pancake Day.

Last, but not least, our newest board members to relocate are Greg and Alicia Bird. The Birds will be returning this year to help in any way they can and most importantly serve as our Grand Marshalls for the festivities and parade. The IPD Board selected the Birds because their families -- the Warden and Bird families -- have been a part of IPD since the beginning. As many locals know, Billie Warden who is Alicia’s Mother, won the first race back in 1950. Greg’s Father Byron Bird helped with the breakfast via the Kiwanis Club since the beginning too. We so appreciate all that the Bird’s have done for this community and the legacy they leave here with Pancake Day.

Listed below is the official schedule for all the IPD events this year. The school events start on Friday the 21st- On Saturday morning, -Rine’s Freestyle Karate crew, headed up by David Rine, facilitates the flipping and eating contests at the Randall Girl Scout Building in Light Park. McDonalds provides all the pancakes for the contests and it is always a lot of fun to watch everyone try to break a record number of flips or eat their pancakes the fastest! The Pancake Chase is a great way to work off those calories after the morning events. They have a 5K and a 10K for you to choose from this year. Sunday will bring the most noticeable change to the schedule. Many factors such as limited participation, low audience turnout over the past five years, increased expenses and lack of an event coordinator to take the reins caused us to not plan a talent show this year.  The board researched many options and weighed out all the factors and finally agreed to replace the Talent Show with a Carnival.  Connecting to the Brazilian tradition of Carnival, which is their version of our Mardi Gras, seemed a good plan for something different for our entire diverse community.  The Liberal Area Coalition of Families (LACF) has agreed to organize this first time event.  LCOF has done a great job planning the entertainment, games, and food which will lead to a fun time for all ages.  The Carnival will take place at the Activity Center on Sunday the 23rd from 3 pm to 5 pm.  At the Carnival we will also personal hygiene items for the “care closets” at the schools here in Liberal. Monday is a full day of setting up for all of the events the next day, ending with the Grand Marshal’s Reception.  Baker Arts Center hosts this invitation only event which allows the Board and I to show our appreciation to all of our supporting patrons and welcome our visiting local, state and out of town guests.  In years past some of those guests have from as far away as Olney, England when they decide to experience Pancake Day here in the states.

The official Pancake Day events all happen on Tuesday the 25th of February.  The griddles are on early to start serving those pancakes at 6 a.m.  We are so lucky to have the support of our community sponsors for the breakfast.  IHOP, Pancake House, Dillon’s Grocery, Best Market, Seaboard, and PraireFire Coffee come together to provide for a delicious pancake and sausage breakfast! This year we will have tickets at the door to gain entry into the breakfast.  If you would like a souvenir IPD button you can take your ticket stub to the merchandise trailer and redeem it for a button. Our program starts at 7:30 a.m. and is always a treat to see the Liberal Police Department color guard present the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack and to hear the Star Spangled Banner and God Save the Queen performed by the LHS Redskin Singers. Miss Kansas 2019, Annika Wooten, is planning on attending too. We might even talk her into running as an honorary racer in the international race.

After breakfast, the kid’s races start at the Hall of Fame at 10:30 a.m.  Be sure to stick around and watch the Men’s Pacer race which leads up to the international race at 11:55 a.m.   After the winner of the local IPD Race has a chance to catch her breath, smiles for the cameras and gets presented with her tiara, flowers, robe and the kiss of peace we head off to the First United Methodist Church symbolic of where it all began back in 1445.  The Shriving Service is hosted by the Liberal Ministerial Alliance and is filled with a great message, and beautiful music. All are welcome to join in this non-denominational service.  If you want to join the choir for the service I’m sure Tony Claus will be happy to have you join in. Following the service we connect digitally with our friends in Olney. We let the race winners from both countries visit and share their times to see which racer ran the fastest to lay claim to the international title.  We appreciate Doug Brewer and his team at Douglas Productions for taking care of the video set up and the sound needs for the festivities over the past many years.  The last event of the day is the parade hosted by the Rotary Club of Liberal.  Royce Kitts, our Parade Chairman, has planned a great line up for the parade.  Color guards, LHS marching band, clowns, military vehicles, floats, antique cars, horses and cowboys…it’ll all be part of the parade. If you or your company or organization wants to be part of the parade just get the information off of the website at www.pancakeday.net.  The IPD Board and I hope to see a large crowd come out to join in the four days of festivities!  Remember to stay focused on Pancakes in 2020!      

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