Breakfasts with Santa
When: 8-10:30 a.m. Saturday
Where: Gainesville Civic Center, 830 Green St. NE, Gainesville
How much: $5
When: 10 a.m. to noon Saturday
Where: North Hall Community Center, 4175 Nopone Road, Gainesville; and Mulberry Creek Community Center, 4491 JM Turk Road, Flowery Branch
How much: $6 for one child, including two adult breakfast passes. $2 for each additional child and $4 for additional adult.
For pancake recipe, click here.
Pancake breakfasts with Santa have been a December tradition for years, but local community centers and organizations are adding new twists each year to provide a unique experience for children and parents alike.
The Gainesville Phoenix Woman's Club held a pancake breakfast with Santa over 30 years ago, and it was a local tradition for Patty Laine and her family. Years later, she is helping the group restart the event on a large scale.
“They did it for a long time, probably 30 or 40 years ago because I remember going when I was a kid and how great it was,” she said.
This year’s breakfast is from 8 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday in the main ballroom of the Gainesville Civic Center. Tickets are $5 for a plate of pancakes, sausage and a drink.
“Last year, we had around 400 people,” Laine said of the first year the society brought back the event. “This year, we are expecting more than 500. The ladies cook everything there at the civic center.”
Members of the society arrive at 6 a.m. the morning of the breakfast to cook up sausage patties and more than 1,500 pancakes. Each person receives three or four pancakes. But breakfast isn’t necessarily the main attraction, though.
“Local children’s choirs come and sing and provide live entertainment,” Laine said. “We also have clowns, since the Gainesville Shriners come help us out with the event and bring their clowns.”
The group also is introducing an aspect new to the reincarnation of the breakfast but traditional to the event as a whole. The “Secret Santa Shop” is something Laine recalls from her childhood, and she decided to bring it back this year.
“Girl Scouts help kids go in the shop and pick out gifts for their parents,” Laine said. “The parents buy a $5 ticket, and the kids go in and get a gift and come out with it wrapped so it’s a surprise.”
Santa and Mrs. Claus will, of course, be on hand to listen to children’s wishes, take photos and add Christmas spirit to the occasion.
“It’s great that Santa brings Mrs. Claus when he comes to our event, because a lot of times, kids who are shy around Santa aren’t as shy for Mrs. Claus,” Laine said.
Mrs. Claus and Santa will travel to North Hall Community Center and Mulberry Creek Community Center from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday as well.
Breakfasts are $6 for a child, which includes two adult passes. For each additional child, the cost is $2, and $4 for an additional adult.
“Usually we have around 20 or 25 that don’t register, so we expect over 100 people,” said Steve Hutson of Mulberry Creek Community Center. “It’s grown every year. The hardest part is keeping up with the pancakes.”
The staff arrives two hours before the event to prepare food and set up crafts and decorations.
“We will have pancakes, juice and fruit for each person,” said Candace Wilson of North Hall Community Center.
The community centers will have a craft activity for children after breakfast.
“We’ve bought some canvases and things to make ornaments, and Brooke Whitmire will be in charge of the activity,” Wilson said.
North Hall Community Center will have a fully decorated tree perfect for photo opportunities, and Mulberry Creek will have photos courtesy of Walgreens.
“They come in and take pictures for us,” Hutson said. “Each person gets an 8-by-10-inch for free, and then they have the option to purchase a package.”