100-year-old Batavia Rotary Club gears up for annual Father's Day Fly-in Breakfast
Above, three generations of the Marchese family, of Batavia, helping at last year'sfly-in breakfast. Seated is Fran Marchese, who has been a Batavia Rotarian for more than 40 years and is a past president. At right is his son, Paul Marchese, who has been a member of the Batavia Rotary Club since the 1980s. Center is Paul's son, Joe, a college student who volunteers at the breakfast annually.
Submitted photo and press release:
The popular Batavia Rotary Club Fly-in Breakfast returns to the Genesee County Airport on Father's Day, June 16. Serving is from 7 a.m. until noon.
Rotarians will prepare the all-you-can-eat extensive breakfast of eggs, pancakes, sausage, orange juice, coffee, tea and milk. A specialty is the "Rotary Scramble" combination of eggs, sausage, peppers, onions and cheese.
Tickets are $8 per adult and $5 for children ages 5 to 12. Children under 5 are free.
"We have expanded the number of our serving lines so waiting has been greatly reduced," said Ed Leising, longtime chairman of the event.
Also, there is plenty of onsite handicapped parking close to the hangar that is the breakfast site.
The Fly-in Breakfast is one of the Batavia Rotary Club's main fundraisers each year to support the many community service projects conducted by the club.
"Every penny our Batavia Rotary Club raises from fundraising is donated toward local, regional and international projects," Leising said. "Money we raise in fundraisers such as the Fly-in Breakfast is never used for the operation of our Rotary Club itself."
Leising cited several programs that benefit from the club's fundraising efforts, including $18,000 in college scholarships awarded annually to students from Batavia, Notre Dame and Genesee Educational Partnership and $250,000 pledged to the Healthy Community Center to be constructed as a joint venture of the YMCA and United Memorial Medical Center.
Recent short-term projects have included remodeling of the Domestic Violence Safe House operated by the YWCA and improvements to Crossroads House security.
Batavia Rotary Club is celebrating its 100th anniversary of providing for the community under its motto of "Service Above Self."
Tickets for the Fly-in Breakfast are available in advance from any Rotary member and also at the door.
History of the 100-year-old Batavia Rotary Club's Annual Fly-in Breakfast
By Gregg McAllister
Genesee County Chamber of Commerce had a great idea in the late 1990s as they launched the Wingding Weekend as an end-of-summer festival that included an air show.
Anne Garlock, who was on the Chamber's planning committee, suggested to fellow Rotarian Ed Leising that the Club should organize a fly-in breakfast at the county airport for Sunday morning during the weekend.
Ed assembled a team of workers who obtained food donations, equipment to cook a hearty pancake and eggs breakfast in an airport hangar, and suddenly the idea took flight.
Rotarian Carol Boshart and her husband, Jeff, of Boshart Enterprises and Aircraft Services, and Jay Gsell, county manager and also a Rotarian, provided support and clearance to use the hangar for cooking and seating of guests.
That first year in 1998, the club served nearly 900 breakfasts.
Over the next few years, the tradition continued, and Rotarians developed a relationship with the local Flying Farmers club, which conducted a fundraising breakfast at the airport each Father's Day in June.
Eventually, the Flying Farmers decided they were not going to continue their event, and offered the Father's Day date to Rotary.
The first year of the change to June for the breakfast, the hungry crowd of breakfast lovers climbed by 200.
Now Rotarians average 1,350 to 1,400 breakfasts served annually, with income of $11,000 to $12,000 for community service projects.
Many area residents have made the trip for breakfast at the airport part of a Father's Day ritual as parents, children and grandchildren meet for a huge meal. Pilots fly in from airports throughout Western New York, and guests enjoy seeing the various planes.
Even with so many years of experience, the event requires six months of planning and preparation. Basically all of the food is donated from generous sponsors like Tops, United Memorial Medical Center, Kreher's egg farm and Suburban Propane.
A team of Rotarians sets up tables, chairs and massive grills in the hangar the night before.
The first shift of workers starts cracking eggs by 6 am in order to be ready for the first surge of customers at 7. Serving continues until noon. A cleanup crew comes behind, and the hangar is restored to airplanes by 4 p.m.
Working on the event is a family tradition for a number of Rotarians. One young adult who now lives in Pittsburgh comes back each year to help because that's what she did when in middle and high school.
"It's a great way to spend time with my Dad the Rotarian on Father's Day," she said.