It's the 25th anniversary of the annual giveaway, offered by Rita's on the first day of spring. Known as Rita's Free Ice Day, Rita's expects to give away one million-plus ices around the country. The giveaway will take place at all Rita's locations, from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Of the 39 flavors of Italian or water ice available at Rita's, the most popular is mango; the chain uses 300,000-plus pounds of mangoes annually. This year the company is also holding a free ice for a year contest. In order to enter, you need to take a photo of yourself on the first day of spring -- "show us your tongue, your excitement for Rita's and everything in between!" -- and upload it Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #RitasFirstDayofSpring.
There are 104 Rita's locations in New Jersey; the first Jersey store opened on May 1, 1991 on the Ocean City boardwalk.
The chain was started by former Philly firefighter Bob Tumolo, who started selling water or Italian ice from a small porch window in Bensalem, Pa. in 1984. He named the business after his wife, Rita.
The first day of spring is a popular day for giveaways. In addition to Rita's, Dairy Queen is today offering a free small, vanilla soft-serve cone at participating locations. That promotion is designed to raise money for Dairy Queen's Children's Miracle Network Hospitals fundraiser.
High temperatures are expected to reach the lower 50s today -- warm enough for ice and ice-cream in our book.
|An Italian ice photographed in front of Rita's Hamilton store (Rita's). NJ|
FREE ITALIAN ICE AT RITA'S FOR 1ST DAY OF SPRING
There may be snow on the ground, but that's not stopping one tasty spring tradition from happening.
Rita's Italian Ice stores will be celebrating the first day of spring on Monday, March 20.
And as they have done for 25 years, Rita's is giving away free ices to all customers who visit their stores between 12 p.m. and 9 p.m.
The ices will come in a limited-edition First Day of Spring cup.
Plus, the popular PEEPS flavored water ice is making a comeback. Some stores will have it during the First of Day Spring celebration, but it officially hits the Rita's menu on March 27.
Spring freebies on Monday: Dairy Queen cone, Rita's Italian Ice
On the first day of spring, get a free DQ cone or a free Rita's Italian Ice (or double down and get both).
Get your free soft-serve vanilla cone cone at Dairy Queen all day on Monday, March 20, 2017. Limit one per customer while supplies last.
Participating locations will also collect donations for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, which raises funds to help save and improve the lives of kids treated at 170 children's hospitals across the U.S. and Canada.
Last year, participating Dairy Queens raised more than $200,000 during Free Cone Day.
To find a participating Dairy Queen, click here. According to the Dairy Queen website, locations in WNC include Hendersonville Road and Smokey Park Highway in Asheville, as well as Weaverville , Hendersonville, Canton, Sylva, and Old Fort.
You can also pick up a free Rita's Italian Ice on Monday.
Rita's says in a press release that people who visit the store in the Regent Park Center between noon and 9 p.m. can snag their free Italian Ice in a limited-edition First Day of Spring cup and taste-test a returning-favorite flavor, PEEPS® Italian Ice.