The sounds of “What I Like About You” drifted through the parking lot of Roger Dunn Golf Shop early Wednesday morning, accompanying the long line forming to get $5 pancakes and sausages cooked by the Santa Clarita Valley Rotary Club.
“J.C. and the Pancake Band,” has been a staple at the Rotary Club’s annual Fourth of July breakfast for the past nine years.
“It is no easy feat finding musicians willing to get up so early for an event that started at 6:30 a.m.,” said band leader J.C. Burnett. But, he added, as the band began a cover of “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” — this is an event that makes it worth it.
The breakfast has taken place at the golf shop building in Old Town Newhall for all of its 52-year run, said coordinator Chris Ball.
Usually, the servers plan for about 700 people each year, depending on the weather and the day of the week the holiday falls on. They may use anywhere between 150-175 pounds of batter, said Ball, head of the Rotary Club’s food committee for the last 13 years.
“This year, people haven’t left for the weekend because the Fourth was on a Wednesday,” he said. “And it’s a cool day, not too hot, so we’re expecting a good turnout.”
The breakfast club broke tradition when they decided to do grits this year, and when the club raised prices to $5, he said. But otherwise, there’s a lasting art to cooking the pancakes for this many people.
“If we don’t use enough water,” Ball said, pointing to the plates people held with two pancakes each, “We run out of batter. Like any good business, we need to stay ‘liquid.’”
First-timers also were welcome at the breakfast.
Nick Gontmaher, a 9-year Santa Clarita resident, said he ended up at the breakfast when he “followed the pack” on his way to view the parade that started at 9 a.m. He’d heard about it in previous years, but was just now getting to taste the goods.
“It’s a great way to kick off the Fourth of July,” he said.
Throughout the morning, SCV officials also stopped by decked out in patriotic colors.
Santa Clarita City Councilman Bob Kellar described the festivities as some of the best in Santa Clarita.
“The good thing about this is, it hasn’t changed,” he said. “The event does always get a few more people. But the quality of the pancakes never goes down.”
Councilman Bill Miranda agreed. “We’ve had a lot more community participation in recent years,” the 35-year attendee said. “We’re growing so large now, but it’s great to see us maintaining the old traditions.”
Kids milled around the event, as did dogs. Departing from his usual suit, 21st District Senator Scott Wilk greeted his constituents wearing a casual red shirt, while also tending to his two puppies, “Simi V.” and “A.V.”
“This breakfast is a longstanding tradition we do every year,” Wilk said, “and it’s one of the great events that makes Santa Clarita what it is.”