Glenwood Kiwanis Club marks 75th anniversary with Saturday pancake breakfast
Bill Coleman was looking for something to do on Tuesday nights some 45 years ago after he was dismissed from the Glenwood Springs Jaycees for turning 35 and aging out of the junior chamber club.
“My dad belonged to the Lions but they met on a different night and I only had Tuesday’s open,” Coleman said. “Kiwanis was meeting that night, so I joined.”
He’s been an active member ever since, and is now one of the longest-serving members of the Glenwood Springs Kiwanis Club — second only to Phil Anderson, who has been in the club for 50 years.
That’s still just a fraction of the years that the Glenwood Kiwanis Club has been around. The club celebrates its 75th anniversary this year — and the celebration continues Saturday with the 65th Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast in downtown Glenwood Springs.
Who: Glenwood Springs Kiwanis Club
What: 65th Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast
When: 7 a.m. – 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 10
Where: 9th and Grand, in downtown Glenwood Springs
Tickets: $6 adults, $4 children
“It’s just something I’ve always felt comfortable doing,” Coleman said. “Kiwanis does a lot of good for the community, and so that’s what I’ve been doing all these years.”
Over the years, the club has helped with trail and facility projects at Hanging Lake, built what’s now Veltus Park along the Roaring Fork River, and has done numerous projects geared toward youth, such as the club’s annual student scholarships.
Bob Veltus was a Kiwanian when the park was known as Kiwanis Park. He died trying to save a child who had gotten swept into the river during high runoff. The child lived, but Veltus died, so the park was named in his memory.
“We do a lot of other things these days, including helping with Windwalkers,” Coleman said of the equine therapy ranch south of Glenwood Springs. “We go up there probably three or four times a year and work to help clean up and fix the stalls.”
And, then there’s the annual pancake breakfast, where Coleman will be flipping pancakes Saturday morning, same as he’s been doing for 40-odd years.
Members of the club compiled the following history:
In June 1944, 26 men from all walks of life — ministers, mechanics, postmen, a baker and a policeman — formed the local Glenwood Springs Kiwanis Club. Now, in 2019, the Glenwood Springs Kiwanis Club is celebrating its 75th anniversary.
Glenwood Springs Kiwanis Club is one of 7,333 clubs internationally committed to serving the global mission of improving the world, one child and one community at a time. Glenwood Springs Kiwanis Club has touched the lives of many of the children and families in the Roaring Fork Valley.
The club was formed by a transplanted Kiwanian from Grand Junction named Everett Oetken who moved to Glenwood Springs in 1944 and, with the help of three other Grand Junction Kiwanians, contacted local men about forming a club.
In November 1944, the Kiwanis charter set Tuesday nights as the official meeting night at Hotel Denver. Tuesday has been the same meeting night for the last 75 years.
One of the first projects was founding Kids Day in Glenwood Springs in 1945. Every year up to the 1970s, there was a kid’s parade, games, bicycle race to Carbondale, and the city offices were run by high school students for the day. It was a special time for the kids to get involved in the community.
Frank Heberling, an original member, volunteered to be a one-man committee to collect donations from all merchants to help defray the costs of this event; he raised $500 from the community. War bonds and stamps were purchased with this money to be given as prizes. Throughout the years, there have been other creative fundraisers for Kids Day, including a drag show called “You Can’t Beat Fun” in 1954.
After the war, the Kiwanis members decided to develop a recreational and local campground on 5 acres near the Roaring Fork River owned by the city and was renamed Kiwanis Park. In 1953, Kiwanis helped build shelters and tables for the new park and undertook the daunting task of clearing all the underbrush, overgrowth, and accumulated trash from years of misuse.
Since then, Kiwanis has maintained the park’s shelters, tables and bathrooms, including planting 50 trees in 1965 and enlarging the main shelter and renovating the shelter’s roof in 2010. The park’s current name is Veltus Park, renamed after a former Kiwanian Bob Veltus, who drowned saving a child’s life near the park.
To continue to raise money for the “park program” at Veltus Park the club planned a Pancake Breakfast fundraiser. It was founded on Aug. 31, 1954 on Grand Ave and 9th Street. The highlight of the first annual pancake breakfast was the presence of the well-known celebrity Ethel Ernestine Harper, the spokeswoman for Aunt Jemima syrup, as the guest of honor.
Over 530 people attended with 2,500 pancakes served. There was always extra fun for the club with the mayor and other city officials holding a pancake eating contest. Today, it is still a major Kiwanis fundraiser for scholarships and other kids’ programs.
There have been other service projects throughout the years including sponsoring Key Club, a teen service and leadership development program, which was founded in 1958. The club is still sponsoring a Key Club at the Glenwood Springs High School today. Additionally, with the demise of the Basalt Kiwanis Club, the Glenwood Springs Kiwanis Club has become the sponsor of the Basalt High School Key Club.
Also, Stars of Tomorrow (1967 – 2016) was a program that allowed kids and young adults to perform and be judged on the stage and included a scholarship. The first winner of this program in 1967 was the well-known retired music teacher Lorie Beattie (Courier) with a piano solo.
Kiwanis club also played a significant role in maintaining Hanging Lake Trail during the late 1980s. The club worked on the trail, built bridges, the boardwalk and the shelter.
Throughout its history, one can find Kiwanis working with a myriad of local organizations, including:
- Girls Scouts (1963)
- Boy Scout Explorers (1960s)
- 4-H Leaders Appreciation Night (1960-1979)
- CMC Mini College playground (1979)
- Roaring Fork School District O.W.L. Awards (1962-2016)
- Building a children’s playground at the Community Center (2010)
- Storywalk project with Garfield County Libraries at Gregory Park (2016)
- Bike rack installations during the Grand Avenue Bridge construction (2017), for which the Kiwanis Club was name Community Partner of the Year.
The club continues to fund raise with the annual ball race at Strawberry Days and the traditional Pancake Breakfast. These funds go to help local high school graduates with scholarships and fund other service projects in the community.
Look for a new park bench near the playground in Veltus Park, recently installed by the city, commemorating the 75 years of service to the community and honoring the past members who made those contributions.
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