MASSENA - Punxsutawney Phil may beg to differ, but the general consensus of the Massena community seems to be that once the annual Rotary Pancake Breakfast marks the beginning of spring.
For more than five decades, Massena has gathered together for one morning to chow down on hundreds of pancakes and other morning foods.
From 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. today, the J.W. Leary Junior High School gymnasium will be the site of the 54th annual event, hosted by the Massena Rotary Club.
A group of about 80 volunteers - including Massena Rotarians, Massena Central student groups and other community members - will help mix batter, grill pancakes and sausage, and pour beverages for an anticipated 1,600 hungry people.
The whole community comes out for this big event. Thats why we always say its the welcome of spring; because its amazing how many people come out in the community for this event, Rotary Club President Susan Bellor said.
All of the money we raise, every bit of it, goes right back into the community because we get requests all of the time. Theres many large organizations we give money to and for big events that we provide for, she said.
The chairperson for the event, Jim Venier, helps coordinate the day, orders much of the food and gathers 60 gallons of locally produced maple syrup to be used for the meal.
One new component for this years edition of the meal is a shuttle service for the attendees. The Rotary Club is offering free transportation from Massena Central High School to the junior high. Attendees can park at the high school and ride a free bus shuttle right to the front door of the junior high and back.
I contacted the company that I work with and we rented the bus and my husband drives for them. So he is donating his time and well get a shuttle, well pick up at Massena High School and bring them right over here and bring them back, Darcy Sharpe said.
Another part of the day is a silent auction, led by Phil and Jackie Sheehan, where hundreds of items are donated for the auction from local merchants.
What we do is we have a committee of all different Rotarians, and Rotarians say that theyre able to go out and get donations. So we break that up and Ken Marlow, Nancy Smith-Weller and myself put everything all together, Ms. Sharpe said. Then what we do is, all the Rotarians get a packet and then we go out and we solicit for the donations. Then we get them all in and we bring them down to (Phil and Jackies Gift Shop) and they get them all organized.
Every year we have a Keurig coffee machine and everybody bids on that. Every year its something different. We have stuff for kids, we have some different liquors that have come in, we have a lot of gift certificates that are coming in, we have radio ads and I believe we have something from Quality Inn - an evening there.
The annual pancake day is the biggest fundraiser for the Massena Rotary Club, who last year contributed over $30,000 to local organizations.
Breakfast includes pancakes with local maple syrup, sausages, orange juice and beverage. The cost is $7 for adults, $5 for youth and children under 5 are free.