Block Party Pancake Breakfasts

Growing up in Calgary until the age of 9 and returning to my roots 10 years ago, the Calgary Stampede has always been a cherished memory for me. Being a bit of a history geek, there was no hesitation when I was honored with an invitation to join the Calgary Stampede Historical Committee. As luck would have it, I am able to participate and be involved in one of the biggest celebrations of the century – the Centennial Calgary Stampede.

Looking back, one of my fondest memories of the Calgary Stampede is the block party pancake breakfasts that my parents and their friends used to host in our driveway. With a neighborhood in the midst of a turnover, guests included everyone from the elderly to newborns at our annual event that we hosted for over a decade. Invitations were handed out door to door by my brother, myself and my best friend who lived down the street. Neighbors would come together in their western shirts, cowboy hats and boots with bar-b-ques, picnic tables, coffee urns and pancake batter to cook breakfast for over 200 people. We played games like volleyball and kick-the-can and even had visits from the fire department so kids could explore the fire trucks! As a hot air balloon pilot, my dad would tether his balloon in the school yard at the end of the street and give everyone balloon rides!

The memory of our ballooning lifestyle triggers another Stampede memory for me – I was a member the chase crew for the AM106 Stampede Hot Air Balloon Race, where we used to take off from the infield and return later to watch the wagon races from Scotsman's Hill. Getting up early, chasing balloons, eating mini doughnuts, getting our faces painted, cheering for our favorite wagon and watching the fireworks snuggled up in blankets in the box of the crew truck are experiences I will never forget.

The Stampede has definitely evolved in the past 20 years, but I'm fortunate that I have these memories to share and can't wait to create new ones as we celebrate 100 years of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

Kate Gernat, 2nd Vice Chair, Historical Committee

My best friend Meaghan Vanderlinden and I at the Stampede, 1992
Michael Gernat (left)and Jos Vanderlinden (left center) cooking breakfast in the driveway on Hooke Road S.W., 1989