When Mike and Donna Orris are asked how many years they have been coming to the annual Washington Firefighters Pancake Feed, they respond simply, “I don’t know, when did it start?”
On Wednesday, Jan. 9, the couple continued their tradition as they sat down with plates of freshly made pancakes, sausage and poached eggs. The veterans of the event knew to come early to the lunchtime feeding in order to find a decent parking place and avoid the long lines that sometimes go out the door. This year, people waiting in line got to see — taped to one of the large bay doors — the floor plans of the building under construction just outside.
“The new building will be nice,” Donna said. “People are lined up clear to the door and it is full. This is a very popular event.”
The Orrises sat across from City Administrator Brent Hinson, who likewise, had pulled a folding chair up to the folding table with a plate of food fresh from the buffet line. He told the Orrises that there would be a paved area which could provide additional parking to the area.
“They had really good timing,” Hinson said. “They started putting up the steel yesterday, so we have something impressive to look at.
Hinson, who attended a construction meeting Tuesday, said the project is right on schedule. He said next year’s pancake event would be in a bigger place.
As Wayne Brock waited in line, he recalled the years he has attended the event. He had no number, saying only that he had been coming to the event for as long as he could remember. He said the feed was equally a social event to see friends.
“I think more people are coming now than did years ago, but the food still is just as good as always,” he said.
In the lot next to the fire station, the very start of the shell of a building extended upward. People leaving through the front exit were close enough to touch the new construction.
“They have all the footings and infrastructure done,” Fire Chief Tom Wide said. “It ought to go up pretty quickly now.”
The completion date for the new building remains Sept. 1, although Wide predicts the building shell would be complete in about a week. He said next year the pancake feed would be in the new station.
As Marc Korver stood in line waiting to buy a ticket, he said attending was a way to show his support for the fire department.
“They always have a need for updated equipment,” he said. “The fire department, much like the police department, has a thankless job, so I try to give back to them.”
Korver hopes the admission money he paid puts the fire department a step closer to getting and equipping the new station.
Wide said after this year the cramped areas during Pancake Day would be a thing of the past.
“Everything will be pretty much the same, but there will be a little more space and people may not have to stand outside,” Wide said.
The fire department has been in its current location since 1973 and is cramped. Every space at the current fire department is used for storage or for parking its vehicles. The new construction will create a larger fire station and the existing municipal building will be remodeled to accommodate the city offices and the police department.