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Pancake breakfast draws crowd in Arlington | SLIDESHOW
ARLINGTON — A long line of locals wrapped around Haller Park on the morning of July 4, all waiting to get a pancake breakfast from members of the Arlington Heights Firefighters Association.
“It’s the typical Fire District 21 pancake feed that’s for sure,” said firefighter Rob White. “I think we’ve got a little bit more than last year,” he said, looking at the line. The breakfast began at 7 a.m., and although it was slow to start at first, by 9 a.m. the line wrapped all the way past the monkey bars.
The Arlington Heights Firefighters Association ordinarily serves roughly 1,000-1,200 pancake breakfasts every year. This year they served 1,050 breakfasts and raised $5,500.
“The weird thing about today is it’s Wednesday, not Saturday or Sunday,” said Assistant Fire Chief Branden Bates. “But it’s definitely about average,” he said of the number of people dining.
“This is our fundraiser for the year,” said Travis Marty, association president. “We’ve used the money to help out families during the holidays, or to acquire more equipment for this. It’s a tradition for the community too, people count on it.”
“It’s a fundraiser for the Arlington Heights Firefighters Association, not Fire District 21,” said Bates. “We can use the funds for whatever we choose, but we usually help families in the winter. We’re trying to figure out a way we can make an impact and we try to give back to the community.”
“It’s just what we do,” said Marty. “We feed people.”
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen attended the pancake breakfast along with more than 1,000 Arlington residents. “I’ve been coming here since I was 3 years old,” said Larsen. “I was born and raised here, and in the past I’ve done the Pedal, Paddle, Puff Triathlon.”
Larsen said he likes coming back to Arlington for the Fourth of July, because of the sense of community.
“This is great because the Arlington Fourth is the consummate community event. There’s kids playing in the park and there’s the triathlon,” said Larsen.
He said he was impressed with the amount of money that both the pancake feed and the Kiwanis Club Auction have raised for fellow members of the community. Raising local funds for local needs is something Larsen said is often forgotten in other parts of the U.S. The pancake breakfast was held concurrently with the Kiwanis Club Auction, which raises money for scholarships as well as the Pedal, Paddle, Puff Triathlon, which began at 10 a.m. also at Haller Park.