By Gene Axton - [email protected]

Kingston Rita’s gives away 2,050 cups of Italian ice during First Day of Spring

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Ashley Robold of Bensalem and Sarah Allwein of Harrisburg, both 23, were first in line for Rita’s Italian Ice on Sunday to celebrate the First Day of Spring. Katie Coxlett of Kingston served the two.
Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Italian ice was free at Rita’s on Sunday to celebrate the First Day of Spring.
Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Zachary Pacheco, 23 months, held by his 13-year old sister Alicia, takes a lick from his Swedish Fish flavored Italian ice.
Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

KINGSTON — On March 20, Rita’s locations around the country celebrated the beginning of spring by offering free Italian ice to its customers. When the Rita’s location at 355 Market Street in Kingston opened at noon, Wilkes University students Sarah Allwein and Ashley Robold were first in line.

“Last year we were almost here first,” said Robold, a native of Bensalem, the town that’s home to Rita’s. “About a week ago we started planning (for this year).”

“It’s just something that reminds me of being a kid,” said Allwein, a Harrisburg native. “There’s a ton of Rita’s in Harrisburg; there’s one that’s even open all year round, which I love.”

Rita’s was the pair’s second treat-centric stop of the day. Josie’s Italian Water Ice at 115 South Wyoming Avenue in Kingston opened at 11:30 a.m. and also offered customers a free cup of the cold snack.

“It’s great because it’s kind of like ice cream in that it comes in all the flavors, but it’s not as heavy as ice cream,” Allwein said. “It’s a little more refreshing.”

Stan Motyka has owned Rita’s Kingston location since 2004. He has taken part in Rita’s First Day of Spring promotional campaign every year, and said his shop has distributed almost 4,000 cups of free Italian ice during past First Day of Spring events. This year, Rita’s in Kingston gave away 2,050 cups of Italian ice.

“We stock up early and we get as many into the hands of the guests as quickly as we can,” Motyka said. “It’s probably a never-ending line.”

Nanticoke resident Iyishia Pacheco and her family weren’t first in line, but they were close. Rita’s First Day of Spring is a family tradition for the Pachecos; this was their eighth year visiting Rita’s for a free cup of Italian Ice.

“We do this every year,” Pacheco said. “Cold, rain, snow, it doesn’t matter.”

Rita’s at 355 Market Street location is open from noon until 9 p.m. daily through early fall, weather permitting.

Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121

Location has taken part in franchise-wide promotion since 2004 opening

Ashley Robold of Bensalem and Sarah Allwein of Harrisburg, both 23, were first in line for Rita’s Italian Ice on Sunday to celebrate the First Day of Spring. Katie Coxlett of Kingston served the two.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_TTL032216Ritas1.jpgAshley Robold of Bensalem and Sarah Allwein of Harrisburg, both 23, were first in line for Rita’s Italian Ice on Sunday to celebrate the First Day of Spring. Katie Coxlett of Kingston served the two. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

Italian ice was free at Rita’s on Sunday to celebrate the First Day of Spring.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_TTL032216Ritas3.jpgItalian ice was free at Rita’s on Sunday to celebrate the First Day of Spring. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

Zachary Pacheco, 23 months, held by his 13-year old sister Alicia, takes a lick from his Swedish Fish flavored Italian ice.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_TTL032216Ritas2.jpgZachary Pacheco, 23 months, held by his 13-year old sister Alicia, takes a lick from his Swedish Fish flavored Italian ice. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
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Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121