Pearl River church puts on Shrove Tuesday festivities
By SARAH NETTER
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: February 21, 2007)
PEARL RIVER - Luckily for the children, their pastor doesn't mind a little pancake on the church floor.
The Rev. Susan Fortunato laughed and cheered as more than a dozen children raced up and down the center aisle of the St. Stephen's Episcopal Church kitchen yesterday, flipping pancakes in a frying pan.
The race was part of the church's Shrove Tuesday festivities, marking the last hurrah before Lent started today, Ash Wednesday.
"We do it every year, and every year it gets a little bigger and more complicated," Fortunato said with a chuckle.
The idea of Shrove Tuesday is the same as Mardi Gras, but with pancakes and family-friendly fun.
"We load up on fat and all the naughty things we're going to give up for Lent," church member Katherine Babcock said.
Also set up was a table for Mardi Gras-themed crafts with beads, masks and temporary tattoos.
The children also put on a small parade around the kitchen banging tambourines, sticks and shakers before attacking the Mardi Gras-themed piñata.
With the smell of breakfast wafting down the hall, partygoers dined not only on pancakes, but also sausage and bacon.
Historically, strict Christian traditions prohibited the consumption of dairy products during Lent, so pancakes were eaten on Shrove Tuesday to use up the eggs, milk and butter.
Fortunato estimated that about 100 people would attend the three-hour celebration.
A basket by the door collected donations, which will be used to fund trips and activities for the church's youth group.
Fortunato said the rule was "eat what you can, pay what you want."
And though it's put on by the church, the event has become a community one, Fortunato said, pointing out some revelers whom she had never seen before.
Corinne Foote, 15, and Courtney Loeffler, 12, both of Pearl River, worked in the kitchen serving up pancakes with toppings of blueberries, cherries, applesauce and syrup.
Foote has been a member of the church since she was a young child and is a Shrove Tuesday pro.
"It's, like, fun to get involved with everybody and work with the little kids and stuff," she said.
Loeffler is new to the church within the past year or so, and yesterday was her first Shrove Tuesday celebration.
"I like it," she said. "It's cool."
Fortunato, pastor for five years, said the church's youth are responsible for the preparation, serving and cleanup.
Last year, the celebration raised about $350.
This year activities for the group, comprised of about 25 to 30 teenagers, Fortunato said, include renovating houses in West Virginia and a rafting trip.