A record-setting Pancake Day

By Molly Roberts
Posted 4/5/22

The Kalona Volunteer Fire Department set a record during their pancake breakfast on Saturday, April 2: 3,181 people came through the line for pancakes, sausages and eggs. It was the …

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A record-setting Pancake Day

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The Kalona Volunteer Fire Department set a record during their pancake breakfast on Saturday, April 2: 3,181 people came through the line for pancakes, sausages and eggs. It was the department’s first time feeding over 3,000 people.

The firemen, their families and loved ones worked together to cook over 1,500 pounds of sausage, 8,000 eggs and 12,000 pancakes.

“The thank yous and the support that goes out into this community from us is tremendous,” said fire chief Jerry Zahradnek. “I just can’t say thank you enough. The support we got from our communities, knowing where these proceeds are going, and us being able to have that money in savings is just amazing.”

Zahradnek said the average donation per plate was $16. The proceeds will go toward a new pumper/tanker, which the department hopes to have possession of by early spring 2024 — giving them one more pancake day in 2023 to help raise the funds.

“It has some pretty good elements built into it, so we’ll be able to use it for multiple facets of firefighting, whether that be in town or in the country,” Zahradnek said.

It wasn’t just the KVFD’s current firefighters who helped serve up breakfast to thousands of people — retired firefighters, spouses, children, family members and other loved ones chipped in to keep the event running smoothly.

This became even more important when the KVFD received a fire call in the middle of pancake day and firefighters had to leave Kalona at about noon to assist the Washington Volunteer Fire Department with a structure fire west of Washington.

“Half of us left the pancake scene, but we didn’t miss a beat,” Zahradnek said. “Everybody stepped up – the spouses, the kids, everyone who was there to help really worked hard to keep the last hour running smoothly.”

When Zahradnek and the firefighters returned to Kalona around 3:30, the cleanup effort was already well underway.

“I cannot thank everyone who helped enough. It takes an army to get this together.” Zahradnek said. “I can’t thank the community enough… We’re so fortunate to have this community support that just goes above and beyond.”

He shared a heartwarming story: a family he did not know came up to the front of the line with two or three kids.

“Dad said, ‘go ahead and put it in the boot,’ and those kids reached into their little pockets, and they had quarters, dimes, nickels, and they were putting their own money in the boot. They were smiling the whole time.”

Zahradnek said he was touched that so many people came out to the pancake breakfast despite the cold, wet weather.

“We had a tent set up next to the fire station, but people still stood clear out in the rain waiting to get under it,” he said. “That just shows you how much the community cares. I don’t know how big of a tent we would need to keep everyone dry — I don’t think they make them that big to be able to hold the amazing number of people who came out to support us. We simply cannot thank them enough.”

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