For the first time in 43 years, the smell of pancakes fresh off the griddle won’t be wafting through the expansive garage at Port Moody Fire Rescue’s Inlet Centre fire hall.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there also won’t be crowds of families and kids snaking through the parking lot, kicking the tires on the big red trucks as they await their flapjacks.
Instead, organizers of the Port Moody Firefighters Charitable Society’s annual pancake breakfast are taking their batter and spatulas online.
While the technology may not yet exist to allow the firefighters to reach through computer monitors and serve golden pancakes to people in their homes, Rob Shoucair said they’re going to try their best to replicate the fun and community spirit of the 43rd annual fundraising event through a special Facebook Live presentation on Aug. 2, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
The timing coincides with breakfast because, Shoucair said, it’s hoped families will enjoy their own homemade flapjack feasts, then upload photos of their pancake parties to their social media feeds before Aug. 1, with the hashtag #43pomopancakes, for a chance to win prizes to be awarded during the live webcast.
Final details are still being worked out, but Shoucair said the livestream is expected to include a tour of the hall, messages from sponsors and a “battle of the pancakes” cook-off contest between competing groups of firefighters. There’s also a 50/50 draw and a raffle for two airline tickets.
Soucair said it took firefighters a bit of time to reboot their traditional kick-off to the summer season after the public health emergency and subsequent restrictions against large public gatherings.
“We wavered,” he said of the decision to find a new way to move forward. “It would have been disappointing to cancel after 42 years.”
The delay meant moving the breakfast from its traditional Canada Day date to the B.C. Day weekend so the five-man organizing committee could get all the pieces in place for an online event.
It also necessitated a new method to collect the money that normally comes from the $5-a-plate charge and goes to support local organizations like the Eagle Ridge Hospital Foundation, Crossroads Hospice Society and the Mossom Creek hatchery. That is being done through a special GoFundMe campaign.
Shoucair said the $10,000 goal of the campaign is a little more modest than the $58,000 that was raised at last year’s event that served more than 4,000 plates of pancakes, but the online initiative is a bit of an unknown quantity. He said it’s more important to retain the event’s continuity and carry through with the fundraising momentum already started by continued support from its many sponsors.
“A lot of charities are relying on our donations,” he said. “We didn’t want to let down the people we support.”
Shoucair said the virtual pancake breakfast will also be a way to boost morale in the community as people weary of months social isolation and physical distancing efforts to reduce the risk of transmitting the novel coronavirus.
“It shows people we can all adapt to the things we’re facing this year,” he said. “But it will definitely feel different.”