HAWTHORN – A community Thanksgiving tradition will return to Hawthorn this weekend, as the town’s fire department hosts its annual pancakes and sausage dinner.
“It’s a tradition for a lot of us,” fire department member Michael Rearick said of the three-day event which will be held Nov. 29 through Dec. 1 at the Hawthorn fire hall along Main Street.
According to event organizers, the annual event began more than 50 years ago as a fundraiser for the Hawthorn Fire Department the weekend following Thanksgiving and leading into the first day of deer season.
“No one was really doing breakfasts for hunters at that time,” Hawthorn Fire Chief Curtis Kiehl said, noting that in its early days the event was a 24-hour operation Friday through Monday morning.
Over the years, there have been changes in the hours and offerings. This year, meals will be served from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 29 and Sunday, Dec. 1; and from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 30.
“We want to try to get the hunters before they go into the woods,” said fire company vice president Gabe Troup, who has been organizing the dinner for the past three years.
“This is the first time in several years we’ve been open on the first day of buck season,” organizers said.
In addition to the time change, menu items will include all you can eat pancakes and sausage, as well as eggs toast, sandwiches, french fries and a variety of soups.
“We have a pretty good selection,” Troup said, explaining that preparations for the dinner typically begin in October. “The most popular thing we serve would definitely be the pancakes and sausage.”
In fact, Troup reported that the fire company ordered 400 pounds of link sausage, 350 pounds of sausage patties, 120 boxes of pancake mix, approximately 12 gallons of syrup and about 10 pounds of coffee — much of which is purchased or donated from local businesses.
“Everything is made fresh to order,” organizers said.
Noting that organizers arrive approximately two hours before the doors open to start preparing food, Troup said that nothing served at the dinner is prepackaged or frozen.
“There is definitely a lot of work that goes into it,” he said, adding that the number of volunteers has fluctuated over the years. “We’ve done it with three people and we’ve done it with 20.”
This year, because of the state’s decision to change the first day of antlered deer season from Monday to Saturday, breakfast organizers are hoping for more volunteers. For that reason, Troup said, they have extended their plea for volunteers to the entire community beyond members of the fire company.
Anyone interested in volunteering, should call (814) 365-5770.
“We really have no idea what to expect this year with the change in hunting,” Troup said. [But] it works best when there are a lot of people to help.”
In past years, organizers said, the event has been well attended by not only local residents, but those who come to the area from out of town to hunt.
“It’s nice because you get to see a lot of people you only get to see this time of year,” fire company member and borough councilman Terry Beamer said.
“There’s a guy from out of state who stops in every year,” Troup added.
As with last year, dinner organizers are also coordinating their efforts with Hawthorn Borough’s light up night festivities on Friday evening.
“It’s become an all-community event,” Troup said of the dinner, adding that it’s a great opportunity to enjoy a meal and bring children to visit with Santa Claus, and see an ambulance, police car and fire truck up close.
Along with the food and fellowship, organizers said the pancakes and sausage dinner is a great way to help support the local fire company, which will use the proceeds to purchase equipment and pay bills.
“The fire company is definitely in need these days,” said fire company member and borough councilman Bryan Walkins, explaining that the Hawthorn station is run completely by donations and fundraising. “We don’t get any funding from any outside sources.”
For more information on the pancakes and sausage dinner, and to view the full dinner menu, visit www.hawthorn560.com.
“We appreciate everyone’s support, and hope to see you there,” Walkins said.