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Ice cream shop gives out free Ben & Jerry's

Kenny Schnabel, owner of Main Street Sweets, greets

Kenny Schnabel, owner of Main Street Sweets, greets customers as they arrive for a free Ben & Jerry's ice cream cone at his Westhampton Beach store. Credit: Erin Geismar

Expect a line at Main Street Sweets in Westhampton Beach this evening.

As record-breaking temperatures brought in the first day of summer, so did sweet shop owner Kenny Schnabel with a free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cone for everyone who walks through the door between 4 and 8 p.m.

“It’s our way of thanking the customers who have patronized us over the years,” he said. “We’re looking to thank them and give back to the community.”

Within the first hour, about 300 people had taken advantage of the offer, and Schnabel and his staff were there to welcome in every one of them.

“It’s a very close-knit community,” said Ryan Jaquin, 17, of Remsenburg, who is going into his second summer working for Schnabel. He was standing at the entrance to the shop on Wednesday alerting people to the special and monitoring how many people were in the store at a time. “I know everyone who’s walking by, it’s a lot of fun.”

Schnabel, 61, who has owned the shop for 19 years, said he expects to give away between 3,000 and 4,000 cones based on attendance to other free-cone giveaways. Though this is the first time he’s held what he’s calling the “First Day of Summer Party,” he has participated in the popular Ben & Jerry’s company-wide Free Cone Day in April.

Jaquin said most of the people walking in already knew about the event, though some were pleasantly surprised.

Lydia Frenzel-Sulyok, a senior at Westhampton Beach High School, showed up with exchange students Sophie Angel of France and Maria Sanchez of Spain after reading about the free cones on Facebook.

After a day of organizing last-minute details for their senior prom tomorrow, Frenzel-Sulyok said, “This is a really fun thing to do together.”

Laurie and David Kass, of Westhampton, spent the first day of summer with their 2-year-old twins, Abby and Zev, at the Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton and a friend spread the word about the event.

As Abby and Zev sat on a bench outside the sweet shop digging bright green spoons into their ice cream cups, Laurie Kass said despite the heat, they had a great day together and this was the perfect way to finish it.

“What better way is there to start the summer?” she said.

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