Friday, July 4, 2012
Riverside Park and its surrounding neighborhoods may be in the middle of the state's largest city, but people who live in the area say it feels more like a small town. It's that small town feel they're going for this morning as they celebrate the nation's independence.
"A lot of us in the Riverside neighborhood think we are a small town dropped in the middle of a large city," said Kathy Dittmer, who is chairperson of the Riverside Citizens' Fourth of July Pancake Breakfast and Children's Parade.
It's that small town feel many credit for the popularity of the event, which has been held for the past 22 years in Central Riverside Park.
You don't have to live in Riverside to enjoy the fun, which begins bright and early. The pancakes start flying at 7 a.m.
"In front of the pagoda building, we set up a huge grill and we're flipping pancakes and throwing them at one another and having a good time," Dittmer said.
The chance to reconnect with neighbors for that sense of community is what keeps many families coming back year after year.
"It's great because everyone in the neighborhood is really busy and we don't have a lot of events for people to re-engage," said Riverside resident Michael Alldaffer. "So, everyone comes together and they get to share stories and look at each other's kids and just have great conversations."
It's not just Mom and Dad who appreciate that chance to chat.
"I've left my neighborhood school and I don't see my friends that go there as much and sometimes they show up here and it's just really fun to hang out with them and to see my neighbors," said Michael's son, Aidan Alldaffer.
Money from the pancake feed will go to the Riverside Citizens' Park Fund. That fund is used to keep each park in Riverside nice.
The children's parade, which kicks off at 8:30 a.m. is free. Organizers stress anybody in Wichita is free to come and go as they please.
This year's event will be held in the 700 block of North Nims, just across the Arkansas River from Central and Nims.