By Lloyd Gray/NEMS Daily Journal
This is one in a continuing series of articles on Christmas traditions in Northeast Mississippi.
TUPELO – When the Tupelo Christmas parade changed from a night-time event to Saturday morning, the Kiwanis Club saw an opportunity and seized it.
In 1996, the Tupelo club began hosting a pancake breakfast geared toward the parade crowd. Its location at First United Methodist Church, sandwiched between the Jefferson Street/Main Street route, made it a convenient stop either before or after the parade, and it’s been a regular part of the day’s routine for many paradegoers ever since.
It’s also made a lot of money for local youth-oriented charities as one of the Kiwanis Club’s two major fundraising events of the year. Kiwanis members do all the labor – including cooking on the oversized, revolving griddle the club owns – and serving up the pancakes, sausage, coffee and orange juice provided buffet-style.
Bobby Nichols, who joined the club as a relocated retiree, brought the idea from his days as a Kiwanian in Gulfport and Laurel, where the clubs cooked pancakes all day long in conjunction with the Christmas parade. When the Tupelo club was looking for a new fundraiser, Nichols made a pitch for a pancake day, and the Tupelo Kiwanians agreed to give it a try. They’ve never regretted it.
“It’s the highlight of the year for our club,” said current Kiwanis President Trentice Imbler. “It allows us to continue to help children in the community in many ways. The club members enjoy the camaraderie and the fun shared.”
This year’s event is Saturday from 6:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 per plate and may be purchased at the door.