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Celebrate the first day of spring with free Rita's on March 20

Rita's offers free water ice to celebrate the first day of spring on Thursday, March 20.
Rita's offers free water ice to celebrate the first day of spring on Thursday, March 20.
Photo by Michelle Hein

In Bucks County, PA, it’s hard to believe that the long-awaited spring is actually here this Thursday, March 20. And while it remains a bit chillier than we’d like this week, it’s still worth celebrating. The annual Free Ice Giveaway at Rita’s Italian Ice is the answer. Each guest that visits between noon and 9 p.m. will receive a free regular ice of their choice. With over 50 flavors of smooth, cold and delicious ices available, everyone is bound to have a favorite.

As the nation’s largest Italian ice concept with over 625 stores in 20 states, Rita’s has become a favorite spring tradition from New Jersey through California. Share a glimpse of your Rita’s treat with other fans as part of the First Day of Spring Photo Contest. From 12 p.m. on March 20 through midnight on March 23, fans are invited to post photos taken at Rita’s to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #RitasFirstDayofSpring. One grand prize winner will be awarded free ice for a year in the form of 52 vouchers for a free regular ice. Two runner ups will win a Rita’s Spring Picnic Pack, and 10 honorable mentions will win gift cards to an Instagram photo printing website. To participate, you must follow Rita’s on Facbeook, Twitter or Instagram. Click here for complete rules.

In keeping with the theme of tech-tied promotions, Rita’s will continue with last year’s popular Rita’s Ice App with a Rita’s Rewards Loyalty Program for fans with smart phones. Download the Rita’s Ice App and be sure to show your virtual reward card to receive virtual “punches” every time you visit. After seven visits, you will earn a free regular Italian ice to redeem on your eighth visit. Click here for more details and to download the app. As a gift, you’ll receive one free punch when you show your phone on March 20.

As usual Rita’s is releasing new flavors for the new season. This year there will be three limited-time-only flavors of Starburst® ices. The first flavor, Cherry Ice, will be available for the first day of spring. Get it soon because it will only be served through April 6, and then Orange Ice is available April 7 through April 27, followed by Wild Berry Ice April 28 through May 18.

For those in the Philadelphia and Bucks County areas, the success of Rita’s is especially sweet because this is where it all began. In the summer of 1984, a former Philadelphia firefighter by the name of Bob Tumolo decided to open a small Italian ice business. Named after his wife, Rita, Bob opened the first store in Bensalem, PA. Bob and his mother created fresh Italian ice (commonly referred to as “water ice” in the Philadelphia area) daily, adding chunks of fresh fruit, and being sure to throw away all uneaten ice after 36 hours. These time-tested recipes (along with many new flavors and variations) and commitment to freshness are the qualities that made them famous…and they are still followed today.

While Rita’s has now branched out considerably, the nostalgic feeling that Rita’s evokes is probably most unique to the Philadelphia region. Many young adults today have strong memories of piling into the family car with siblings and neighbors on warm summer nights – eating this chilly after-dinner treat while sitting on blankets spread on the hood of the car or chasing lighting bugs with fruit-stained lips. For many of this same generation, Rita’s was even their first high school job. With flexible hours, plenty of other young people, and a fun, relaxed atmosphere, Rita’s was (and still is) a perfect job for those making that first transition from the lazy childhood summer days into the adventurous and slightly more responsible teenage years.

While each season brings new flavors and different things to try, Rita’s still holds on to that family-friendly feeling that many people look forward to every spring. Each year’s opening day is a symbol of warm days, simple pleasures and a new season of memories. Start your season with a free ice from Rita’s on March 20 and come back all spring and summer long.

If you’re in the Bensalem area, here are just a few of the locations to visit this year:

Bensalem Rita's

3610 Bristol Road

Bensalem, PA 19020

(215) 757-5333

Woodhaven Rita’s

1227 Bristol Pike

Andalusia, PA 19020

(215) 245-1782

Feasterville Rita’s

1401 Bridgetown Pike

Feasterville, PA 19053

(215) 322-8774

While hours can vary from store to store, the minimum hours of operation for Rita’s locations from now through the Thursday before Memorial Day are:

Sunday – Thursday: 12 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Friday – Saturday: 12 p.m. – 10 p.m.

To read more about the history of Rita’s, find a location near you, sign up for the birthday club or learn more about the company, visit their official website.

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