David and Melanie Johnson, of Selbyville, wanted to find an entertaining way to spend their retirement. They checked out and researched a ton of ventures, and found their place with Kona Ice, a company that uses colorful ice cream trucks to sell snow cones and donate a portion of the profits to local organizations.
Just minutes after David Johnson pulled his Kona Ice truck next to the North Bedford Street Park in Georgetown, children began flocking to the colorful vehicle and dancing to the tropical music that followed it down the street.
Even their father started swinging his hips and waving his arms to the beat of the music.
And that’s exactly why Johnson, a Selbyville resident, said he got involved with Kona Ice.
“This is a happy business,” he said, as he shared his excitement about his plan to sell red, white and blue snow cones decorated with an American flag on Fourth of July weekend.
David and his wife, Melanie, began their Kona Ice journey earlier this year, after completing training in April. They are now working to become immersed in Sussex County communities like Georgetown, Milton, Rehoboth Beach and Lewes.
The brand new Kona Ice truck, which is covered in colorful beach scenes that include a cartoon dolphin and a crab at a child’s eye level, is much more wholesome and inviting than a typical white ice cream truck, David and Melanie said.
“It’s a party on wheels,” Melanie said. “Wherever it is, people are dancing and happy. Everything is clean and spotless and very open, so there’s nothing hidden.”
The interior of the truck, with battery-powered coolers, is crisp white, and among the island-themed decals, children and adults can flavor their own snow cones with 10 popular options, or choose from 50 flavors, for hundreds of flavor combinations. The Johnsons also decided to add ice cream options earlier this week.
The excitement of children and the franchise’s ability to raise funds for local community groups is what drove Johnson and his high school sweetheart, Melanie, to get involved with the shaved ice business on wheels.
“The big thing for me is I wanted to find something that gave back to the community,” he said.
The two retirees now are working to garner more public attention in the hopes of participating in local fundraisers, which could receive about 20 percent of the proceeds from the Kona Ice sales. They already have big plans for fundraising events, like attending Little League games, Sussex County high school football to help raise funds for the schools’ music programs, and the Austim Speaks’ Bike to the Beach event, which lands in Dewey Beach on Aug. 2.
“That’s the one area we haven’t been able to tap into in a significant way, yet,” Melanie said. “We really want people to be aware that we want to give back and do fundraising, and it could be huge.”
Kona Ice franchises have donated about $17 million in proceeds to fundraising groups throughout the country, according to the company.
“Ultimately, what we’re striving for is to give back to the community, which is what drives us to do this,” David said. “It just feels so good.”