FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. – If you’ve spent a day on Fort Myers Beach, you’ve likely seen the crew that pushes the ice cream carts up and down the coast.
They work for a company called Pedals Ice Cream.
“We used to pedal the bike, but we push it now,” said David Rosenzweig, owner of the company.
You can usually hear them before you see them. Their bells and boisterous voices are louder than the waves crashing along the shore.
They were wiped out by Hurricane Ian, which destroyed their freezers, ice cream and all but one of their carts. Despite all that, their plan is to rebuild and be back on the beach.
“Ice cold water, bananas, ice cream,” yelled Rosenzweig. “Grandma just made some meatloaf-flavored ice cream that’s got real meatloaf in it. But that was just a joke of course, and they laugh.”
When NBC2 interviewed him, Rosenzweig was standing in his destroyed and now gutted shop along San Carlos Boulevard on San Carlos Island.
It’s not the sweet treats that keep him going, but rather the smiles and the young faces that lit up like a Christmas tree when they saw him coming.
“Mom! Mom! look! The ice cream man’s coming,” he said. “I love it. It’s great.”
Rosenzweig has been working on the sand selling ice cream for 42 years. His business grew from just one cart by himself to five carts and a handful of employees.
“It’s part of me now. It’s all I know.”
It might be the feeling of making a young child’s day, or maybe their custom ice cream call, but there’s something infectious about it.
“Ice-cream! Popsicles! Sno-cones,” yelled Manager William Dalbora. “It’s something to see the kids come running, yelling, ‘Mommy! Mummy! Here comes the ice cream man!’”
Dalbora has been the manager for years, but now, he’s out of a job.
“My income is challenged, and I’m working other jobs now to make ends meet,” he said.
Hurricane Ian’s storm surge flooded their shop with six feet of water, leaving them with nothing.
“We’re cleaning it up and starting over,” Rosenzweig said.
Even after four decades in the business, David, now 65, isn’t ready to throw in the towel. After all, he tells NBC2’s Gage Goulding that he’s the only one with a permit to sell on the beach.
“I’m doing what I can survive it. I want it to last,” he said.
While it might be a year or two until his ice cream crew is back along the coast, once that beach is back open, you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll be there with bells on.