EVERETT — The free pancake breakfast drew a crowd and the police.
That was the point.
The annual community breakfast at Lowell Elementary School was to foster relationships over food.
On Friday, about 800 pancakes and waffles, topped with syrup, fruit and whipped cream, were served to anyone and everyone.
The cafeteria was packed and noisy with a turnout of about 500 students and adults.
Second grade teacher Stacey Wartenbee started the pancake breakfast in 2015.
“We are always looking for ways to connect our school with the community,” she said.
It started small, but grew. Then the pandemic hit.
“We haven’t done it since 2019,” Wartenbee said.
This year, they invited the neighborhood, first responders, transit workers, the mayor and reporters.
“We even went door-to-door and left flyers,” she said.
A $400 grant from the PTA covered the food bill and made it free for all. Otherwise, adults would have had to pay $2.
There were no eggs or sides of bacon and sausage to go with it. But there was milk and juice, plus coffee for the grownups.
It was the first time Anthony Rodriguez, parent of two Lowell students, had breakfast with his children at school.
“It’s fun,” he said. “I met the mayor, that was pretty cool. I ran into some other people I know. And I met some new people.”
No to-go orders were allowed, Wartenbee said. “It’s all about talking and interacting.”
At least seven Everett police officers attended the event, sitting at tables with students and handing out sticker badges.
“It’s nice to have these opportunities to build relationships and get kids to realize we are here to help them,” Everett police Lt. Greg Sutherland said. “Even more so nowadays with so many kids afraid of the police.”