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Scooping Up Smiles

by Erin Chenderlin / Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars center Toby Petersen spent the afternoon Tuesday at Ben & Jerry’s, scooping up and handing out different varieties of ice cream for their 31st Annual Free Cone Day. With the help of some Dallas Stars Planet Tan Ice Girls and the regular Ben & Jerry’s staff, Petersen worked non-stop for almost two hours, dishing out favorites such as Cherry Garcia, Phish Food and Rocky Road.

Free Cone Day Photo Gallery

Free Cone Day Video

“Some of them are definitely harder to scoop than others,” he said afterward. “The frozen ones are tough, and the marshmallows in Rocky Road all stick together. It’s harder than it looks!”

Petersen and the Ice Girls made their services available to the Plano scoop shop, located at the corner of Preston Road and Plano Parkway. This year, the Plano location was raising awareness for the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County, since April is also Child Abuse Awareness Month.

“We can help get the word out and we’re able to let everybody know that child abuse is not just a national issue, it’s a local issue. It’s very local even inside of Collin County,” said Hunter Rose, Ice Cream Czar of the Plano and Highland Village scoop shops. “Locally, we partner with the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County and if someone wants to drop a dollar or so inside the bucket, that’s great, if not, we’re really here just to get the word out.”

Ben & Jerry’s started their Free Cone Day more than 30 years ago, after completing their first year of business. Rose explained that, back then, the company decided that if they were able to stay in business for an entire year, they would give back to the community and basically have a huge ice cream party. Stay in business they did, and they’ve been celebrating every year since, at every scoop shop worldwide. Last year, the Plano shop served up more than 7,000 free scoops. And that was on a rainy day, Rose said. This year, the shop expected more than 8,000 people. A regular, busy Saturday sees between 500 and 600 customers.

“We go through as much ice cream today as we do normally in at least a week, maybe more,” he said. “It’s crazy the amount of ice cream we go through.”

Petersen stepped in and got right to work, quickly rolling up the right sleeve of his jersey to better dig into the ice cream vats. With the help of the staff, he was able to correctly locate what flavors the customers were asking for.

“Without them I’d be lost and I’d still be looking for my first one,” he said. “I had no idea where any of the flavors were, but it was fun.”

The Ice Girls also tried their hands at dishing out some ice cream. Angie, a two-year veteran, said it was definitely harder than it looked, but recognized Petersen’s good form.

“For scooping, you need guns of steel – you need some muscle!” she said. “And you can see the line – I can imagine people probably waited 30, 45 minutes for a scoop, so I made sure to get them a really big scoop. I made it worth their while. I probably gave them too much but the other scoopers said it was OK. Toby was smart – he was switching hands.”

“It was great. It was fast and furious all day here,” Petersen said. “A lot of people came through and hopefully they were satisfied with my ice cream scooping abilities.”

“Toby’s hanging in there,” Rose commented during the afternoon. “He’s got a good arm. It’s pretty obvious that he’s a real athlete, and he’s a natural-born scooper.”

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