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Burb’s Eye View: Better charity through music and pancakes

In the back corner of the John Burroughs High School courtyard, about as far as you can get from the stage and still keep an ear on the action, Connie Trimble packed up the last of her cooking utensils.

On that stage all Saturday morning, the varied and dynamic singing groups of the school’s Vocal Music Assn. took the community through a musical odyssey, from warm-ups all the way through a complex harmonized classical piece. Through it all, Trimble kept the crowd well-fed with a signature pancake recipe from her family’s restaurant, Barron’s.

Now it was cleanup for the breakfast crew. As the last act, the Sound Sensations, ended its warm-ups, Trimble picked up a pancake dropper. The large, metal funnel distributes a perfect dollop of buttery batter onto the griddle. It’s a professional-grade tool, and as she runs a finger around the rim she tells me it was one of the only things recovered when Barron’s burned in November 2001.

That day, she says, was her “personal 9/11.” The restaurant her parents owned and operated for 50 years, where Trimble herself grew up, was gutted when faulty wiring on a freezer caught fire.


Nowadays, Burbank gets to revisit the original family pancake recipe when Trimble mixes up a batch for local fundraisers.

“I worked with my parents for 40 years. This becomes a way I still touch them,” she said.

For the last few years, Trimble and other parents have catered the fundraising rummage sale and breakfast at Burroughs. It’s part homecoming, part family reunion for the students and alumni who attend the performances, and for the parents whose children have long since graduated.

If it’s not the students taking center stage, it’s Trimble’s pancakes — a recipe made famous on “Visiting…with Huell Howser.” The day that show debuted in 1997, Connie said, “kept me alive for four or five years more.”


People still talk about her pancakes. After a few bites I can see why — there’s a perfect balance of spongy, gooey and toasty in the old Barron family recipe, and my irresponsible amount of syrup does not drown out their deliciousness.

“I look forward to this day for 364 days,” said Burroughs music director and 2000 graduate Brendan Jennings between bites of pancake. “I’m sad that it’s almost over.”

He said parental support for the music program is a hallmark of its success, as evidenced by the scholarship awardees and professional entertainers who have graduated from the program, including Trimble’s daughter.

To formalize that support, the Vocal Music Assn. has formed the Legacy Alliance for parents whose children have graduated the program but still want to help out.

At least once a year they can count on parents like Trimble and John Howard, a Burbank resident who built the giant griddle on which they served hundreds of pancakes and sausages throughout the morning. He built the machine in his garage with his son, and donates it for charity events. It’s that griddle that makes Trimble’s pancakes possible for the annual event.

With his final act taking the stage, Jennings has to run off to prepare for the performance. Before he goes he gets a hug from Trimble, who points out a jar on a nearby table stuffed with dollar bills. For a donation, attendees received the famous Barron family pancake recipe.

“We are teaching kids about music, but it’s about being a part of an excellent team,” Jennings said. “Learning to expect that excellence from yourself, that bleeds into the rest of your life.”

Excellence may take many forms — in dollars, in donations, in community pride, and in pancakes.


“This is all for fun and love,” Trimble said.

BRYAN MAHONEY is a recent transplant from the East Coast. When he’s not stuffing his face with pancakes, he can be reached at and on Twitter @818NewGuy.