“One! Two! Three!”
Residents and team members take up the chant as flapjacks summersault through the air, hitting the frying pan with a soft pat before being launched skyward again. This is everyone’s favourite event of The Great Pancake Games, which take place on Shrove Tuesday at Barnswallow Place Care Community in Elmira.
The event, known as The Flapjack Flip, gives each resident 30 seconds to flip their pancake, using only a frying pan, as many times as possible.
It’s all in the technique, according to Ed, this year’s winner of The Flapjack Flip. Ed managed over 20 flips in 30 seconds, his secret being his choice of pan. “I chose the lighter pan as it would work better,” Ed said. “But when my pancake went sideways, to the floor, I knew it was over.”
For his outstanding performance, Ed was presented with a golden pancake at the end of the games, which he wore for part of the day.
“I think he was pleasantly surprised that we would give him a medal of such honour,” said Lani Kerbl, a programs team member at Barnswallow.
The Great Pancake Games have been a staple at Barnswallow since 2009, but they’ve existed for hundreds of years in other parts of the world. Records even show the games being played at Westminster Abbey. In his book “The Shared Origins of Football, Rugby, and Soccer,” Christopher Rowley writes that in the 18th century, Westminster School in London, England, held a special pancake game of its own, which saw school boys wrestling and trying to tear the largest piece off a pancake.
“We thought that probably wasn’t an appropriate game for our residents,” said Lauren Lattner, a programs team member at Barnswallow.
They did, however, have a pancake toss and a pancake relay, which saw residents balancing a pancake on a spatula and then traveling to the end of the dining room and back as quickly as they could. The team with the highest combined time winning the event.
Team members also participated in the games. Dean, the environmental service manager, and Sherry, a maintenance team member, were in the servery when the games began. Lauren, Lani and Marcie Robinson, a programs team member, convinced them that competing against each other was a good idea.
Dean managed an astounding 36 flips in 30 seconds. “He didn’t stop the pan, as soon as it would hit the pan he’d flip it up again,” Lauren said.
Eight pancakes were specially made for the event. They were made with extra flour, and left to dry overnight to make them sturdier, as there was a real risk of the pancakes breaking during the games.
When asked if they used any maple syrup, Lauren was quick to answer.
“Only when we eat the pancakes, which is not at the same event,” she said with a laugh.