Members of Battle Creek’s Cereal City Sunrise Rotary Club recently presented a check to the Athens Youth Council in support of the Annual Maple Syrup Project supporting youth programs in Athens.

“While we’re disappointed there is no production this season, we are happy to continue our annual support for this great community project in Athens as we’ve done for the past several years,” Kelly O’Connor, Club president said.

The check was presented to Syrup Chairman, J.R. Brunner who has organized the annual community event for many years.  “We are grateful for Rotary’s ongoing support of this project,” Brunner said, adding this is the first season in 71 years that has been canceled.  Last year the season was cut short in March when Michigan shut down in response to COVID-19.  The organization is looking forward to next season and returning to normal and they can once again tap the trees.

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“The operation is volunteer driven and we work hard in close proximity during the season,” Brunner said.  “There was no way we could operate successfully and stay within the state COVID guidelines.  It was a tough decision for us.”

All is not lost, last season they sealed a supply of reserve syrup and have reboiled and bottled many gallons of it for sale.  The syrup is available in Athens at the Copper Kettle Restaurant and the NAPA Auto Store.  “Like fine wine, we’re calling it “Special Reserve” this season!” Brunner added.

The community project began in 1950 by a group of community leaders and the former Athens Rotary Club, to support youth programming and local sports teams, by tapping the hundreds of maple trees throughout the village.  In their best season they produced more than 600 gallons of maple syrup and have raised more than $350,000 over the years.  The Cereal City Sunrise Rotary Club has supported it and volunteered for the past 10 years and will continue to do so, even with a pandemic.


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