Saturday night, Old Market bar-goers may hear a strange proposition. Put down the car keys and come have some free pancakes and bacon.
The idea is to allow them to sober up before even thinking about driving home. Great Adventure Ministries organized the effort to coincide with the weekend of partying ahead of Halloween. And it’s something they’ve done before, using Ollie the Trolley to give people rides back to their location at 1314 Jones St.
Chad Peterson, Director of Great Adventure Ministries said they’re reaching out to young, college-aged or single adults, “providing an outlet for young people to make a difference in the world."
They do so in a cool, urban basement environment which used to house Jokers Comedy Club years ago – complete with brick walls, contemporary furniture, even a coffee shop. Every week, some 60 to 75 people from a number of Christian denominations take part in their programs and services, and they’re continuing to grow.
Peterson said people tend to look at the pancake offer with skepticism at first. “What’s the catch? Nothing’s free in life,” he said. “And they walk down into this basement and they start making some friends and they see it’s really just pancakes and bacon.” The pancake batter – donated by Village Inn, Twin Creek, and the bacon – donated by Hormel.
By filling bellies, they’re giving would-be drivers extra time to sober up and think. ”Just getting a chance to help people make wise decisions,” Peterson explained. The effort runs from Midnight to 3 a.m. At that point, the trolley could take attendees back to their cars, or they can call a cab to get home.
Last year, 167 people took the ministry up on their pancake offer. “I haven't heard of anything like this in the city so far,” said Katilynn Kotcka, who serves on the leadership team. “So I think it's pretty awesome we're doing this." They could use more volunteers to help in the effort. Those interested can look for “Game Omaha” on facebook, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In advance of that effort Saturday night, Great Adventure Ministries will host a country dance party at the same location. It begins at 8 p.m., with a $5 cover, providing an alternative to the drinking scene.
I would call it Christian Coyote Ugly,” said Director of Ministry Affairs, Monica Gillen. “Omaha has got some amazing country dance instructors." The event will give people the chance to watch and learn. They’ll even have a mechanical bull.
“I believe we are making a difference,” Gill said of the bar outreach.
And Peterson added, "I know that they might not make it home if they didn't have a few minutes to take a break.” Whether they impact one life or 100, he said, it’s worth it.