The success and sizzle of that first event, so capably performed and embraced by the entire Cherokee community, has led to the second annual event set for "Fat Tuesday" on Feb. 16, the day before Ash Wednesday.
The Presiding Vicar of the Cherokee Pancake Day Race, Magrey deVega, has announced new opportunities available for all Pancake Day Race participants.
First, registration has been extended to and including Monday, February 15th. Registration may be done at City Hall, the office at St. Paul's United Methodist Church or online at www.pancakerace.com
Second, the weather has added a new dimension to the event. Should the Official Starting Vicar determine that the air temperature at race time is above 32 degrees the race will progress as usual.
However, should the Official Starting Vicar determine that the air temperature is at the freezing level or below at race time, the Presiding Vicar shall submit this event and all participants for entry to the Guiness Book of World Records for having participated in the largest "frozen pancake race" known.
To allow for the possible irregularities of the course due to weather, snow boots (and boots of all kinds) will not only be allowed but encouraged. Remarkable involvement of boots by a race participant may draw not only acclamation from the Vicar, but also could be the subject of special recognition.
Regardless of race conditions, the post-race shriving service and special pancake and egg dinner fundraiser to support our local food pantries will go on . . . for which participants may elect to remove their boots at their discretion.
According to one of the event organizers, John Cook, in England many years ago the tradition was established for housewives to use the food ingredients that they would otherwise stop using during Lent on "Shrove Tuesday" and to use those ingredients to make pancakes. The custom evolved into a Shrove Tuesday race which is still conducted in Olney, England to this day.
The race includes women who wear a dress, an apron, and a head scarf, all carrying a pan with a pancake. At the start of the race, all runners must flip their pancake, then run the 415-yard course, winding through town and ending at the church where they must again flip their pancake to finish.
The racers then enter the church, place their pans in front of the sanctuary, and a brief "Shriving Service" is conducted with recognition given to the runners at this time.
The "Great Pancake Day Race" planned for Cherokee begins with the race at 5:30 p.m., followed by a brief Shriving Service at St. Paul's Methodist Church, then ends with a fund-raising pancake dinner at St. Paul's, with net proceeds benefiting our two community food pantries. The community is invited to the pancake dinner.
The event is coordinated by St. Paul's, but community-wide participation is again encouraged and actively being sought. Most of the local clergy already have committed to a variety of "official" duties for the race ( starter, course judge, finish line judge, flip judge) and will be easily spotted with their towering chef's hats.
Registration forms and instructions are now being distributed. They are available at City Hall, St. Paul's office, and in pdf format on the web site for St. Paul's (email@example.com/).
Race participants are limited to women age 18 or older. The race is open to the public. Recognition will be given to those who finish the race first, and also for a number of categories not directly related to speed or athletic ability. Pans and pancakes will be provided. Age, gender, and running garb rules will be strictly enforced. It's tradition.
"This is planned as a fun event where all who compete can participate in a memorable experience," noted Cook. "Due to the outstanding success of our first Race, we are excited to bring this to the public again. It's a joyful experience for all involved."
The race also has a historic side, explained Cook, as the area of the race is within the designated Historic District of Cherokee. Two centuries ago, Cherokee's Courthouse Hill was known as "Piety Hill" as it had five churches on and around it. The race passes the sites and former sites of the churches on Piety Hill - the old Congregational Church (where Post Office is now), the Presbyterian Church (near the corner of South 5th and Main Streets), the Catholic Church (part way up the hill on the south side of Main Street), and the Methodist and Lutheran Churches (Methodist at N. 6th and Main, Lutheran just south of it).
The Cherokee City Council has approved closing portions of Pine Street, West Willow Street, North Fifth Street, and West Main Street for "The Great Pancake Day Race of Cherokee" Feb. 16.
The race, which must cover 415 yards (little over quarter of a mile) is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, beginning in the City Hall parking lot.
When weather and course conditions make it appropriate, and at the absolute discretion of the Supervising Vicar of the Race, contestants may be prohibited from breaking stride and the Race conducted as a walk.
All contestants shall attend the Shriving Service that immediately follows the Race, where awards will be presented and the pans returned. Individual and team photos will be taken in the church lounge adjacent to the dining room after the Shriving Service.
Registration deadline is 5 p.m. Monday. The Race is limited to the first 100 pans assigned. Last year in the inaugural Race, 85 contestants participated in the hilarity and gaiety.
St. Paul's Methodist Church has modified its serving plans for the post-race pancake feed and will be able to much better accommodate the large number expected for the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Dinner.
For questions, or more information, call St. Paul's at 225-3955, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The official Pancake Day website is www.pancakerace.com.