Easter Pancake Breakfast Ė Before and Now

By Adrienne Fong (2008)

I realized that the newer members may not know the importance of this event, so I decided to write this article for them and for the other members who havenít been to this event for a while. When you come on Wa Sung Easter Pancake Breakfast on March 23rd, as soon as you step onto the playground, you will feel the Wa Sung spirit that has been around for 52 years. You can see in the eyes of the Life Members, all the tradition and memories of the past Easter mornings. Almost all the Life Members return on Easter. Some still help hand mix gallons and gallons of pancake batter adding in the Wa Sung secret ingredient.

Since my father, Freeman Chan, became a member of Wa Sung in 1963, my brothers and sisters ate pancakes and sausages every Easter morning at Lincoln Square Playground. Dad was there at 4 am to help set up the chairs and tables. He didnít come home until everything was cleaned up and he and the members had lunch together. My mother, Mary, returned later after Sunrise Service to help. She volunteered many years before she was a Wa Sung member. Even after I was married, we drove 25 miles to have Wa Sung pancakes. If friends or relatives were in town for the Easter weekend, they knew where to find my parents. When my children were baptized on Easter Sunday, I had to remind them not stay for the clean up because they had to be at the Methodist church by 11 am which was 3 blocks away. Guess what, they returned later to help clean up. My parents enjoyed working at the front tables. They sold and collected tickets, and passed out the plates. Trying to get them to take a break was almost impossible. Last year was their last Wa Sung Easter event and they still made it to the playground by 7:30 am and didnít leave until noon.

It wasnít until I was a Wa Sung member, that I finally understood their unselfish dedication to the Wa Sung organization. This Easter will be different. Both Mom and Dad will no longer be at the front table greeting everyone. I will miss their conversations when they returned home to compare who they saw that morning and worried about someone they didnít see and then checked out the new Wa Sung Directory from cover to cover. Since Rich and I have become members, we have been part of the Easter Pancake Breakfast committee. We have seen the spirit of being a Wa Sung member through my parentsí commitment to the club. Every Easter, they wore their Easter Pancake red sweatshirt over their Wa Sung polo shirt, with the Wa Sung pin and their Wa Sung hat, and didnít go home until after lunch.

Mary & Freeman Chan

Dad told me that during the earlier days, the Easter Pancake Breakfast committee consisted of the entire club members. Everyone started with 100 tickets to sell and they eagerly pounded the pavement to sell 100 + tickets. The Easter Pancake Breakfast is our clubís signature fund-raising event. This Easter will be the 52nd year of serving pancakes and sausages at the same location. In the earlier years, all the food, goods and prizes were donated by local businesses. Now, the expenses must be covered by the combination of ticket sales, sponsors, and donations so we can continue to support the Wa Sung Charity Fund.

Easter Pancake Committee has been on the go for many months: attending many planning meetings, constant communication via cell phones and email, designing/printing/mailing the tickets, printing/distributing the flyers/posters, soliciting for sponsors, shopping/storing the food, goods and prizes, preparing the sponsor signs, requesting the permits, renting the stage/chairs/ sound system, cleaning the grills, getting the propane tanks filled, sorting/cleaning all the items which have been in storage for a year, arranging the entertainment and also going out to sell tickets.

Easter morning will start at 6 am: move the tables/chairs from Lincoln School to the playground, roll out the grills from the storage shed, prepare the plates/napkins/forks, mix the batter, pour the batter, cook/flip/serve the pancakes, cook/grill/serve the sausages, make the coffee/tea, mix the orange juice, pour the milk into cups, cut/serve the oranges, pour the syrup into containers, set up the Wa Sung membership table with the 2008 Directories, set up tables for the participating vendors/organizations like the Friends of Asian Library and American Cancer Society. For the early morning workers, we will break to enjoy a bowl of hot homemade jook before the first pancakes are served. As the 1500+ people enjoy their pancake breakfast, they will be entertained by Ballet et Cetera performers, O Nami Taiko group, the Lion Dancers and a Chinese band, along with the hourly raffle, the prize drawings, pancake eating contest and the Easter egg hunt. To compensate for the shortage of members on Easter morning, we have been fortunate to have youth volunteers, but we still need member participation. Clean up begins at 11:30 am and we need as many volunteers and members to help as we did at 6 am.

If my 95 year old father and 82 year old mother have been able to come help every Easter, you can too. You do not need to be invited to be at this event, just call or email one of the committee members and volunteer. Please join us in making this event show that our club cares about the Oakland community. Just think about all the hours of planning to be able to feed and seat 1,500+ people, have an Easter egg hunt for 200 children, give out raffle prizes every hour and sell tickets. The committee needs help. Please ask for donations, sponsorship, sell tickets, and show up on Easter morning at 6 am. Parking is easier to find if you come early. Wear your Wa Sung shirt (or any red shirt) and show off our organization. You joined a community service clubÖ.come and serve the community. My wish for Easter is to see our members behind the grills flipping the pancakes. I know my parents will be overseeing everything from above, so letís not let them down. Remember to sell tickets!!!!!