For 91-year-old World War II veteran Bob Larsen, the American Legion Post 42 annual pancake breakfast is a chance to connect with other retired servicemen.
“I came to the annual breakfast every year to support and recall war stories with other veterans,” Larsen said.
The local American Legion branch held the 26th annual breakfast Saturday morning at its hall, 1030 Central St. The event serves as a fundraiser and a chance to bring members together, said Greg Wilson, the post’s commander.
“The idea of holding pancake breakfast as a way for fundraising originated from the shared belief that pancake is something very traditional America,” Wilson said. “And it turned out to work well in the first few years, so we keep running it.”
Wilson said the number of people who come to the annual breakfast has varied from 300 to 600 in recent years and that about 400 to 450 attended this year. The breakfast has raised more than $47,000 in recent years to provide daily necessities to needy families throughout the Evanston community, he said. The proceeds will benefit a variety of local charities, and will allow struggling families and the disabled to attain food, clothing and toys for the upcoming holidays.
Evanston resident Mary Jo Banks brought her two sons and another family to this year’s breakfast. Banks, whose uncle is a member of American Legion, also attends other Legion-organized events such as a summer picnic and golf competition.
“The atmosphere here is really good,” Banks said. “People are talking to each other, and families get a chance for morning gathering.”
A majority of the people present were members of American Legion Post 42 and their families, Wilson said.
Post 42 Ladies Auxiliary, a group comprised of wives and daughters of veterans that participates in American Legion activities, also held a bake sale that benefits five area Veterans Affairs hospitals and other funds.
Members of the Evanston Police Department also attended, as well as the Boy Scouts of America, which has been sponsored by American Legion since 2001.
“I think breakfast is really a good way for fundraising,” said Jasper Davidoff, a 13-year-old Boy Scout. “It’s not just about donation, you are also giving people something back.”
The breakfast provided buttermilk pancakes, sausages, eggs and endless coffee, milk and orange juice. Tickets were $7 for adults and kids six and younger ate free. The Ladies Auxiliary also held a craft and bake sale at the breakfast to sell hand-made gifts.