York Rita's locations opening ahead of spring

David Weissman

Snow is in the forecast this weekend, but it's ice on the menu at York Rita's Italian Ice locations, some of which recently opened after the yearly winter hiatus.

Store manager Christa Lark, mixes a batch of cookies & cream ice Tuesday, March 1, 2016, at Rita's Italian Ice in Springettsbury Township. Rita's will be giving away free ices to celebrate the first day spring March 20. Amanda J. Cain photo

Ed Sneeringer, owner of the Rita's at 3000 E. Market St. in Springettsbury Township, said he opened up on Feb. 26, earlier than usual, to take advantage of Leap Day opportunities. He typically waits until March 1, he said.

The 15-year franchise owner offered buy one, get free deals on large Italian ices for Feb. 29, he said. The Rita's at 351 Loucks Road in Manchester Township also opened up early, Sneeringer added.

The latest Rita's allows its franchises to open is March 15, which is just in time for their First Day of Spring special.

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On March 20, all Rita's locations will be giving away free cups of Italian ice to customers, according to a company press release. It's the 24th year the company has held the giveaway.

Last year, Sneeringer said he gave away more than 3,000 free cups, and the most he's ever given away was nearly 6,000 cups in 2011.

"It's all dependent on weather," he said.

The company expects to give away more than 500,000 pounds worth of Italian ice to more than one million customers at its 600-plus stores nationwide, according to the release.

March 20 will also serve as the unveiling of a new flavor, Jolly Rancher green apple, Sneeringer said. Other new flavors set to premiere this summer include Jolly Rancher watermelon and all natural strawberry, pineapple, orange and banana.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com.