The citizens of Pittsfield celebrated an unorthodox — and unofficial — city holiday on Tuesday.
Free Cone Day at the Ben and Jerry’s parlor on South Street is something near and dear to the citizens of Pittsfield.
“I look forward to it like all year. It’s pretty much my favorite holiday, like, other than my birthday. Or Christmas," said Isabella Corbett, 16. She’s lived in Pittsfield for 10 years.
“So far I’ve gotten three cones," said Corbett. "And I got Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and I got Chocolate Peanut Buttery Swirl, and then I also got the Totally Baked.”
A day of unlimited ice cream has an undeniable appeal, and for local schools, it’s become an intractable part of their calendar. Sophie Lane has been teaching art at Miss Hall’s for 15 years, and she was standing, cone in hand, with her entire photography class from the Pittsfield prep school.
“I would say at least 50 to 60 percent of the student body gets to come to Free Cone Day, which is like 100 kids, probably,” said Lane.
“I got the Berry Berry Sorbet, but this is my second time," said Lane. "Earlier I got Totally Baked.”
Her colleague Rob Sanzone, a music teacher at Miss Hall’s, was there with his songwriting class. He actually worked the day into his lesson plan.
“Well, I brought my songwriting class, and they had a 24-hour deadline to write a jingle about their favorite ice cream flavor, and we just sang them in the car ride on the way over,” Sanzone said.
“I got New York Super Fudge Chunk," said Sanzone. "Thought I’d try something new.”
“Everybody was running through the halls shouting ‘Free Cone Day’ this morning,” said Sophia Perry.
Perry is a 10th grader at Miss Hall’s. She’s from Boston, and had never celebrated Free Cone Day before coming to Pittsfield last year.
“My friends told me it was a Miss Hall’s tradition, and I got on the bus and I went — for history class!” exclaimed Perry.
Perry opted for a classic: cookie dough.
It all began in 1979 with the company’s first birthday, back at its first location in Burlington, Vt. Ben and Jerry’s Grand Poobah of PR, Sean Greenwood (yes, that’s his actual title) sets the scene.
“They had made it right to this time, right to the kind of just the beginning of spring, had lasted one full year in business. And as you know, most small businesses don’t last. The idea of especially an ice cream business surviving a Vermont winter was one that the two guys could not pass up the opportunity to have some fun with,” said Greenwood.
With that, Free Cone Day was inaugurated as a thank you to the supporters that allowed Ben and Jerry’s to flourish.
“It’s a little bit hectic, but it’s pretty fun. We love to see members of the community coming out and eating ice cream and having a good time,” said Manager Kate Guitard.
Behind the counter, Guitard was overseeing the teeming masses of ice cream fans.
“It’s a little bit cold, this is the first Free Cone Day where it’s snowed for us.”
Guitard estimated the day’s attendance at close to 3,500 people.
Helen Busby has lived in Pittsfield since 2005. She reflected on the day while walking up South Street away from the parlor with a friend, both with their free cones.
“My friend a few years ago, she and her husband told me about it, so I came with them," said Busby. "I like free cones! I like ice cream!”
She got Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz.
“I don’t drink coffee very much anymore," said Busby, "So yeah, this is a treat.”