800 People At A Pancake Breakfast? WTF!

On Sunday morning, the Wakeman Town Farm folks planned on 200 people for their fundraising pancake breakfast.

Okay, they hoped for 200 people.

Be careful what you wish for.

Starting early, crowds poured across the lawn.  They were hungry for pancakes.

Mike Aitkenhead (left) addresses the overflow crowd at Wakeman Town Farm.

Hungry to say hi to Mike and Carrie Aitkenhead, the once and future farm stewards.

Hungry to experience the farm on a gorgeous fall morning.

John Hooper — owner of Christie’s Country Store just down the road apiece — had been cooking since 5 a.m.  He’d hired extra staff.

His 1st batch — for 60 people — went quickly.

Then another.  And another.  And another.

The WTF’s runner flew back and forth.  It was like the fish and loaves.

The Town Farm organizers loved it — but grew worried.

John never stopped cooking.

Finally — there is only so much pancake batter in the world — John ran out.  The last people waiting in line said, well, “WTF.”  They offered to let the Town Farm folks keep the money as a donation.

And then — another miracle! — John sent over the final pancakes.

Two of the 800 happy pancake breakfast eaters.

It was successful.  It was incredible.  It was a great tribute to the new group running Wakeman Town Farm; to the Aitkenheads; to everyone who believes in community agriculture.

And it never would have happened without John and Renee Hooper, who cooked, hired help, donated condiments, time and love.

Of course, there comes a time to pay the piper food provider.

That time came yesterday.

John had offered to cook up to 200 breakfasts free.  The Town Farm group would cover anything over that, at cost.

Monday afternoon, John sent over his bill.


Are you ready?

It was…$0.

Zero.  Nothing.  Nada.

Yes,  Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

His name is John Hooper.

And he lives just an apple’s toss away from Wakeman Town Farm, on Cross Highway.

No matter where you live in Westport, feel free to wander over.

And say, “Howdy, neighbor.  Thanks!

21 responses to “800 People At A Pancake Breakfast? WTF!

  1. Richard Lawrence Stein

    Met John a couple of weeks ago and had a real nice conversation… He also had a real nice conversation with a few others…. Glad to hear that John is a great guy for this town and WTF… And if I can be the first to say….. Add smile and grin…. John is a GOOD EGG!!!! And a GREAT PANCAKE maker!!

  2. Best pancakes in town… from a couple of the most generous people I’ve ever had the privilege to meet. Thanks, John and Renee, for making the Wakeman Farm Pancake Breakfast a delicious and joyful event! We are so very lucky to have you as neighbors.

  3. Dan, WTF is so grateful you were able to tell the public about how generous and incredible John Hooper, his wife, Renee, and the entire staff at Christie’s Country Store were throughout the planning of the Wakeman Town Farm Pancake Breakfast. When the day of the event arrived and the numbers multiplied exponentially, the Christie’s team kicked it a few notches higher, making the impossible possible by serving hundreds of hungry Westporters delicious pancakes and all the fixings. We can’t thank the Hoopers enough, but we can make sure we spread the word about Christie’s Country Store, just down the street from Wakeman Town Farm. This is an old-school community gem that everyone should patronage—great food, incredible people! Stop by for breakfast or lunch any day and be sure to visit their Sunday Farmers’ Market featuring local vendors.

  4. Great story and a shining example of the fact, that, while mom-and-pop stores have significantly dwindled downtown, wonderful places such as Christie’s can be found in other parts of Westport.

  5. This is just the ICING on the (Pan)CAKE!!!! : )~

    What a lovely, early am Thank you to the folks at Christie’s– who gave WTF and the Aitkenheads more than money/ There was a LOT of Love there last Sunday~~
    Dan Woog, that was a great report! Heartfelt thanks to you—also, for helping to pull this together, by being a town vehicle for Change and Outrage and Information/Education and Support of the Farm…

    And, so!!! … With John and Renee’s kindness in their billing dept., WTF is now just a mere $1000 away from being able to reach the goal of bringing the Aitkenheads back to the farm! ((in almost in one fell swoop! Thanks to some 800!!! townspeople who attended and to Christie’s Market))
    **We NEED ONE Thousand dollars to Welcome the Farmers Back to the Farm!!
    Checks are made out to the Town of Westport with WTF in the “for” line-
    Wakeman Town Farm will now be under the jurisdiction of the Parks & Recreation dept.???

    Is anybody out there : ) ?!?!?!?!

    **See Wakeman Town Farm on Facebook (for details as well as INFORMATION about what future plans are for the farm) *Send money to Liz Beller, transition team member!! Every dollar at this point, Really Helps!!!

    This is a day you can make a Difference! and, we will do it all over again–hopefully!! Next Year~
    Any extra money will go to much needed Roof!! and Farm repairs/additions like the installation of an antique Greenhouse curtesy of Sal Gilbertie~~

  6. What is Elizabeth Beller’s address? Sunday was amazing. Many folks there to support, after the ridiculousness of this summer, what was meant to be!! Go WTF!

  7. What Is Elizabeth Beller’s address for checks? Sunday was amazing. Much energy at WTF was present to wipe away any vestige of the summer’s antics. Go WTF! Welcome back (nearly) to Mike and Carrie! So glad to have you coming home!

  8. THANKS to the Hoopers & Christie’s Country Store–and of course to Wakeman Town Farm volunteers, farmers, etc. What a great outpouring of support. I think the very modest cost drew in more people than expected, but I think people would have come if it had been $10/person.

  9. Anyone wishing to support Wakeman Town Farm checks should be written out to Town of Westport-Wakeman Town Farm

    Please send to:

    Elizabeth Beller
    4 West Ambler Road
    Westport, Ct.

    All donations are 100 percent tax deductible.

    Thank you!

    Wakeman Town Farm Transition Team!

  10. Thanks to the Hooper’s and Christie’s Country Store as well as all the incredible volunteers and local businesses that worked so hard and donated their products to make this a true community centered family event…..The spirit and energy on Sunday was palpable…..

    Dan — We want to thank you for all you’ve done to publicize our events and activities!

  11. Cathy Talmadge

    I thought I had signed on for previous post!

  12. Wendy Batteau

    As another Westporter wrote, “We are family.” or in this case, “community”. Dan, the Hoopers, the Aitkenheads, the members of the Town Farm interim board, generous donors, and numerous volunteers of goodwill – all have joined to help make this town asset what it should be – a place where Westporters can come to learn, work, or just enjoy. The success of persistent effort! Thanks to everyone involved.

  13. Renee and I thank you all for such heartfelt comments. I want to thank all the volunteers, the interim board and, the wonderful Westporters who came out to support their community, a great cause and a wonderful family.

  14. As a former GVI member who quit in disgust over the way GVI treated the Aitkenheads, I was thrilled to see the tremendous support from the wonderful people of Westport to help restore the Aitkenheads and to make the Wakeman Town Farm another great reason to live in Westport. Like the library and the schools it will become another “Jewel in the Crown”

    Marty Yellin

  15. Tom Siebrasse

    Rock on Mr and Mrs Hooper!

  16. WTF seems to be an apt name for the organization. Family? LOL. Now that they booted the poor guy out of the house, we get a group pancake hug with Santa the Grinch in the middle. Get real!

  17. katherine hooper

    I was at the pancake breakfast on sunday and couldn’t get over the warm community feeling and the beauty of the farm. It’s a wonderful thing they’ve accomplished and now Christy’s will be my new breakfast spot. Stopping over today to introduce myself especially since i just found out we share the same last name!

  18. Great story, Dan!

  19. Katherine Hooper – good for you! I am so happy that it looks like the Wakeman Farm will live on, but let’s throw some support to the Hoopers & Christies as well. Many on this site decry the loss of the “old Westport.” Well, Christies is certainly old Westport – very old. Let’s not let it go. I remember a long-ago sentiment from Lloyd of LLFarms. It was something like – and I’m updating and certainly interpreting – some people just like the IDEA of places like the Remarkable Bookshop, Kleins, and Christie’s, but they actually have to go there and support the place with actual purchases – not just complain once they are gone.

  20. The Dude Abides

    The Wakeman Farm of old was row after row of old apple orchards with a Nike missle site next door. I used to play there as a kid with son Teddy. A far cry from now but certainly a welcome sight full of kids running and playing next to an excellent middle school. Your thoughts are beyond nostalgic and be careful what you wish.

  21. Go Christie’s!