Breakfast organizers flip over new location
WORTHINGTON — The line of people waiting to gobble down some breakfast was longer, the venue much more spacious, and perhaps the pancakes tasted a bit better, too.
Organizers of the King Turkey Day pancake breakfast declared the move to a new venue a rousing success, even if there were still a few minor kinks to work out.
The breakfast — one of the longest-running traditions of Worthington’s festival, dating back to the very first KTD in 1939 — had for many years been situated in the old fire hall on Third Avenue. This year was the first in the new, much-more-spacious fire station just a couple of blocks away on Second Avenue.
Shortly after the first cakes were served up at 9 a.m., the line of eager eaters snaked through the fire hall, down the parking lot and out onto the street. Volunteers flipped the pancakes, poured coffee and grilled up sausages for the steady stream of customers.
“It is going great,” said longtime volunteer Bob Benstead, who headed up the breakfast for the first time this year, taking over for Jim Hudson. “We’re working out any little bugs. … It’s just great with the spaciousness, the openness, and being able to accommodate more people if the weather turns bad. And everything is so nice and clean.”
Benstead is a pancake breakfast legacy, following in the footsteps of his father, the late Harlow Benstead.
“By the time he passed away, I think he’d put in 43 or 44 years ag it,” said Benstead, who inherited his dad’s spatula duties. “I probably started going in my early teens, helping dad get the grills ready. Since I took over (organizing the event) this year, I decided I’d let the others flip the pancakes, but I will have to flip one for Dad.”
Out back of the fire station, Mark Ruesch was also filling the shoes of his father, Larry Ruesch, by grilling up sausages. Larry is recovering from hip surgery, but planned to show up later to “supervise,” reported Mark.
“I guess I’m a chip off the old block,” Mark said..
The sausages — meat donated by JBS and prepared for the grill by W-2 meat market — are cooked over charcoal. It took 14 bags of briquettes to prepare the grills.
“We had some nice flames going this morning,” said Ruesch, illustrating how the fire leapt high above the grates. “We were waiting for the fire department to show up.”
A third generation of the Ruesch family, Mark’s daughter Haley, was also on hand to help with the grilling.
“We’re training them early,” Mark said. “You have to watch until the juice comes up in the center (of the sausages), then you flip them, give them a few more seconds, then take them off.”
Benstead anticipated serving 5,000 to 6,000 pancakes on Saturday morning, while there were 2,500 sausages being grilled out back.
“We order 2,000 plates, 2,000 of everything,” shared Benstead. “And we don’t have many left when we’re done.”
All the volunteers were satisfied with the facilities at the new fire station, although Mark Ruesch pointed out one little drawback with the new locale.
“Now they’ve got these nice big windows, so they can look out and see what we’re doing,” he said. “We can’t get away with anything out here.”