By Nel Lampe | Special to the Mountaineer
FORT CARSON, Colo. — It’s a long tradition in Colorado Springs to block off Tejon Street and Pikes Peak Avenue and bring in hundreds of hay bales for seating, ask for volunteers to get up really early, set up field-cooking equipment, make coffee and get the pancake batter ready. Breakfast will be served from 5:30-9 a.m. June 19, 2019.
The earliest risers that morning will be the Fort Carson Soldiers and Peterson Air Force Base Airmen who have volunteered to prepare the street breakfast. Arriving about 1 a.m., they’ll set up the cooking equipment, start the coffee and cook 1,100 pounds of pancake batter along with 1,500 pounds of eggs.
About 5:30 a.m., local citizens and tourists will begin arriving at the breakfast site, drawn by the aroma of coffee and pancakes. Typically, thousands of people, many of them wearing Western-style clothing and 10-gallon hats make their way downtown. They park in a garage or along nearby streets, sometimes accompanied by children still in pajamas, clutching the wooden nickels serving as tickets.
The wooden nickels can be purchased for $5 at the breakfast site. Children under 5 eat free.
A volunteer will put a couple of pancakes on a plate and add a scoop of scrambled eggs. Diners will help themselves to butter and syrup, then pick up milk, juice or coffee and head for the hay bales.
“This is the first time the Army and Air Force have joined up to prepare food for the Street Breakfast,” said Gregory Joell, installation food program manager, who has several years’ experience in volunteering for the breakfast. “I enjoy the opportunity to give back to our community.”
The first street breakfast was in 1936, according to the history on the Western Street Breakfast website. About 35 people got together for pancakes in front of the Swiss Chalet Restaurant downtown, attended by rodeo boosters, now known as Ramrods.
The traditional street breakfast is sponsored by the Pikes Peak Range Riders and the City of Colorado Springs and celebrates the beginning of the rodeo season, gives a nod to Colorado’s Western heritage breakfast and the traditional ride by the Range Riders.
The Pikes Peak Range Riders scheduled its first ride around the Pikes Peak area to publicize the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, and the street breakfast seemed like a good place to start the ride.
Breakfast goers get free entertainment, with music by the Flying W Wranglers, Exit West and the Colorado Springs Conservatory.
The kids get a chance to visit the Kids Corral, watch a trick roper, visit a petting zoo and take roping lessons.
The Range Riders mount their horses, and led by the Fort Carson Mounted Color Guard, leave the Western Street Breakfast site about 8 a.m.