The 55th Annual Easter Pancake Breakfast

By Melanie Lew

Before the breakfast began, many volunteers and members were hard at work setting up for the great feast. Outside, tables were rolled in and laid out in preparation for the hungry pancake eaters. Row after row of chairs were lined out waiting to be sat upon. Inside, around 30 pounds of Krusteaz Pancake mix was being gleefully mixed and stirred by the veteran batter-mixer, Karly Wu. It didn’t take a talent scout to realize that this girl was up to the task. Karly, a 3rd year volunteer, took me behind the scenes of the batter preparation process, revealing the “secret” recipe. She was very enthusiastic and confident in the event’s success.

Further away from the batter mixing and juice pouring were various booth setups. People from all over the area came to represent their respective organizations. A quick glance across the field granted a full display of excited groups, including The Asian Health Services, The Asian Community Mental Health Services, The Oakland Chinese Chamber of Commerce, The Hep B Project, AYSC, The Oakland Police and Fire Departments, Albert Brown Mortuary, The Wa Sung Junior League Table for Easter Hats, and the Youth Volunteer Sign-In Table.

Around 8:15 a.m., hungry guests started to line up in front of the greeting table, awaiting their delicious pancakes and sausages. Shortly after, the President of Wa Sung, Roland Hui, delivered the President’s Welcome Message, kicking off the event. The smell of pancakes had begun to fill the air, tainted by a tinge of coffee and sausages. According to one of the greeters, Doreen Lew, “Everyone seemed very pleased to be celebrating another year of Wa Sung’s traditional Easter Pancake Breakfast.” Alongside the line, a couple of youthful student volunteers were handing out the 2011 Wa Sung Community Directory. Justin Wei, a 4-year attendee, and Eric Wu, a 1st year attendee, were both excited to help out in any way possible. They later moved to the grill area to help prepare sausages for the breakfast.

As the event started to pick up, a dark cloud decided to provide some light spring showers over Oakland. This did not faze Wa Sung, who quickly and seamlessly moved the event indoors. Volunteers brought their event booths Lincoln Square Recreation Center gymnasium. Guests were then entertained by the Chinese singing band "Friends by Chance" and the Heiwa Taiko Drummers.

Almost as quickly as the rain began, it cleared, presenting the opportunity to move the event back outside. Tables and chairs were moved back outdoors for people to enjoy the sunlight and fresh air. The live entertainment continued with beautiful performances by Ballet Et Cetera, directed by Yukiko Sakakura and a grand display of talent by the U.S. Shaolin Kung Fu School of Instruction. Several new costumes were presented for different styles of dance, including hip-hop, tap-dancing, ballet, and other dance routines. Famous styles of Kung Fu were shown in all their glory with the use of classic weaponry such as staffs, swords, daggers, and spears. People applauded with excitement as the children and adults dazzled the crowd. In addition to the live performances, Jean Quan, the Mayor of Oakland, graced us with a fantastic speech showing gratitude to Wa Sung’s community service efforts.

In parallel to the live action, many other events took place around the park. At the playground, children lined up for their chance at collecting enough Easter Eggs to earn themselves stuffed animals and treats. Groups were allowed in every 15 minutes starting at 10:00 a.m. and continuing until 11:00 a.m. The Wa Sung Junior League Activities Booth had boys and girls getting in touch with their creative side, constructing Easter bonnets and sailor hats to wear for the day. A happy Easter bunny could be seen planting smiles amongst the many kids, keeping spirits up despite the inopportune weather.

As the morning came to an end, it became very evident that the event was a smashing success. Raffle prizes were handed out to the numerous winners of the day. The Grand Prize winner, Nancy Tsui, initially won a $500 savings bond, but instead opted for $250 cash. The 2nd prize winner, Karen Dea, walked away with a new large clock. People unanimously agreed that the success of the event was due to Wa Sung’s everlasting devotion to their community. But many people do not realize the impact the event has within the senior community. Senior citizens find this event a great way to reconnect with family and old friends according to Willie Davis, a Recreation Specialist for the Lincoln Square Recreation Center. “They’ll definitely see their friends here,” he mentioned. He also felt that the rain had little impact on the breakfast, indicating that the event was “great this year!”

It was a joint effort from many groups with people from AYSC assisting with the event booths, students from Castro Valley High School’s Interact Club assisting with the clean-up, and volunteers from UC Berkeley’s PILLS organization helping with set-up. There were several other volunteers, including the pancake flippers, sausage crew, beverage station, stove crew, accounting office, set-up crew, clean-up crew, greeters, and ticket sales that helped lend a hand to make this annual event possible. A big thanks goes out to the event sponsors, Safeway, Friends of the Asian Library, Karen Dea, Rich and Adrienne Fong, Emily Onglatco, Dr. Michael Wong, Metropolitan Bank, Silver Lining Jewelry, Ed and Arlene Lang, Apria Health Care, Pacific Rim Produce, and Digsby Donuts of San Ramon for making this event possible. Wa Sung would like to express its gratitude to everyone who helped.

Wa Sung looks forward to just as an exciting event next year at the 56th annual Wa Sung Easter Pancake Breakfast! Hope to see you there!