Hundreds gathered at Krause Berry Farms Sunday morning for some farm-fresh blueberry pancakes and an annual visit with old St. Nick.
Crowds circled the hall where Santa sat high on his throne, and near the chef’s area where pancakes were served, guests were greeted and donations were welcomed.
For 16 years running, Alf and Sandee Krause, of the family-owned farm and estate winery in Aldergrove, held a breakfast to raise funds to find a cure for breast cancer.
The event is held in the honour of Alf’s late wife, Liz Krause, who died from the illness in the late 1990s.
This year, there was a new donation option included.
Since a Krause employee died of cancer recently, explained Sandee, this year families had an added option to donate directly to that family, who respectfully remained anonymous.
Early estimates had 800 people turn up for the event, which raised a yet undetermined amount of money to fight the disease and support those affected.
“We even had families who couldn’t make the event call our office and make donations,” Sandee told the Aldergrove Star.
“So many people have been impacted by cancer,” Sandee said.
The yearly breakfast tribute would not be possible without four smiling faces that return to flip upwards of 1,400 pancakes in the span of two and a half hours.
The crew started bright and early, and was led by Pauline Schroeder – a retired kitchen manager at Krause who prepared batter a day ahead for the event.
Schroeder knew Liz Krause well and remembers her as a great person, friend, and mother.
In her memory, Schroeder enlisted her husband, Ed, as well as his work buddies – all long-time friends and husbands – to flip flapjacks side-by-side to a browned perfection.
Dennis Hildebrand from Chilliwack, Rick Danek from Aldergrove, and Derrick Kemp from Chilliwack first met at work more than 30 years ago, and for several years have cooked breakfast together.
While filling dozens of trays with pancakes, the men managed to fire off jokes at one another.
It’s the cause and camaraderie that brings them back two times a year – once on July-long weekend and once near Christmas, admitted Hildebrand.
“It’s quite the event. It’s not just local folks we get a lot of city people here, too.”
Families – many of them returning visitors – dressed in festive sweaters, Santa hats, pyjamas, reindeer antlers, and anything resembling the traditional attire of Christmas.