Rita's gives away thousands of ices in celebration of spring

Photo by Dave Barr Brittany Eppihimer with Gavin and Christian Reed of Exeter.

Thursday, March 20, marked the first day of spring for 2014—and the local Rita’s were letting people know it.

The Rita’s in Boyertown and Birdsboro joined with other Rita’s franchises in 23 other states in giving away free water ice in honor of the first day of spring.

This was the 22nd annual First Day of Spring giveaway according to Boyertown Rita’s owner Parrish Stauffer. Stauffer and his wife Brenda have owned the Boyertown Rita’s for the last ten years.

“Each year it gets a little easier,” Stauffer said of handling the crowds on the first day of spring.

Stauffer estimated that his shop would give away about 3,000 cups “maybe a little more, maybe a little less,” of water ice. They had already gone through about 60 buckets of ice by 12:30 p.m. A normal day they would only go through 10 buckets. The three most popular flavors at the Boyertown shop are mango, cherry, and rootbeer.

According to their Facebook page on March 21, the final total of water ices given away was 2,690. “Our Treat Team worked very hard yesterday to serve everyone as quickly as possible and we think they did an awesome job!,” read the social media post.

At Birdsboro, according to owner Josh Nowotarski, the restaurant gave away approximately 3,933 cups of free water ice. The most popular flavors at Birdsboro were mango, cherry, and Swedish fish. The store has been open for a decade now since 2004 and it “seems to grow attention-wise and crowd-wise” every year for the ice giveaway, according to Nowotarski. “It’s grown every year by leaps and bounds,” Nowotarski said. One of the benefits of the giveaway is that it “lets people know we’re open,” Nowotarski said.

“It gives people a taste of spring and summer and lets them know warmer days are ahead,” Nowotarski said.

In 2013, all the Rita’s combined gave away 1.2 million cups of Italian ice in a ten-hour period.