Under clear skies and the heat of the late-winter sun, sister-in-laws Anne and Carole Boldt opened Milky Way on Thursday for their 39th season, since taking over as owners.
It’s what Regina residents have come to know as the unofficial mark of spring. For the first customer, it meant free ice cream.
Shawn Nelson, dressed for the part in shorts and sunglasses, was the first to order – asking for his favourite and coincidentally the flavour of the day, pistachio.
“I wanted to make sure I was first in line,” Nelson said, after sheepishly admitting he arrived 30 minutes before the shop opened.
“I’ve got to get pistachio in a waffle cone and enjoy it on the tailgate of my truck.”
Loyal customers, like Nelson, voted for Thursday’s flavour of the day. Pistachio wasn’t a surprising choice, considering the first ten customers all ordered the green soft serve.
Just like past years, Anne and Carol eyed up the middle of March as the season opener. And once the weather turned nice, the pair were itching to get back to work and see their customers.
“We’re like the crows, we come back,” Carole laughed. “It’s a sign of spring.”
Blocks away, on the other side of Regina’s downtown, Dessart Sweets powered up their soft serve machine for the season.
“It’s been such a long winter that people are ready,” Patterson said, adding that she’s had to turn down customers who’ve been asking for milkshakes the past week.
“As soon as the weather turns, people start itching to get out and get ice cream.”
Regina could be in store for spring-like double digit temperatures in the coming days, but according to meteorologist Peter Quinlan, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary if the province saw another cooldown, as March and April are known to fluctuate in temperature.
Quinlan says significant snowfall and even temperatures as low as -30 with the windchill are possibilities.
“It’s not looking like it will be a huge long stretch at this point, but I would definitely keep those parkas handy just in case we get dumped back into the deep freeze.”
Astronomical spring starts March 20.