Carpinteria welcomes cart’s return on beach
Shaved ice “Sno Balls,” hot dogs and root beer floats have returned to Carpinteria State Beach.
Penny Gilbert said on Saturday she towed her mobile snack stand called Penelope’s Santa Barbara Sno Balls out to the beach for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak began.
She usually sets up her stand seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Linden Avenue and Sandyland Road by the local Sea Lion Statue landmark.
Ms. Gilbert said she had to remove some baked goods, her snack table and other offerings because of city and Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Department coronavirus guidelines.
“We had to go through the whole COVID-19 procedure through the environmental health department. Saturday was our first day back. Normally, we would start spring break, then according to the weather be open from then on,” Ms. Gilbert said.
“We have shaved ice, which is at least 75% of what I do. Then we do a Nathan’s hot dog with the steamer and the buns are steamed. We do an A&W root beer float with Thrifty’s ice cream,” Ms. Gilbert said.
Ice water, soda, bagged chips, bagged cookies and crackerjacks round out the menu. Ms. Gilbert said city and county regulations require her inventory to remain in the cart before it is sold.
“Usually, I have a table in front with skittles, cookies, pretzels and stuff. Now everything has to be inside the trailer. I had to go back down to the best sellers and favorites and leave it at that,” Ms. Gilbert said customers must wear a mask and social distance themselves while in line. Ms. Gilbert said she constantly washes her hands, wears gloves and makes sure all products are covered before they leave the cart.
Ms. Gilbert said she uses mostly recyclable materials like utensils and food service packaging, but she is working to clear out some of her back stock.
“I would have to throw away all that product and it would go in a landfill. I’ve been using paper straws for two years, my hot dogs are in paper products, the only thing I’m using is plastic cups and those will be switched out,” Ms. Gilbert said in response to a customer comment on Facebook.
She explained that she usually serves on Linden Avenue until September, then she starts working during the fall festival season.
“We usually do the Avocado Festival, Harbor Festival, lacrosse tournaments and also Fiesta, but everything has been canceled,” Ms. Gilbert said.
The city of Carpinteria has contracted Ms. Gilbert to sell snacks at the beach for the past nine years. She hauled her cart to Old Spanish Days, the Santa Maria Strawberry Festival and other local events for four years before the contract.
Ms. Gilbert said the Carpinteria community was excited to see her return to the beach.
“I was a little nervous the first day, (Sunday) was fun. I got to see a lot of the kids; I got in my groove,” Ms. Gilbert said. “I got to see kids that have been there every year, the junior lifeguards, families that I hadn’t seen for awhile with their children growing up.”
Over the years she’s seen countless local children grow up right before her eyes.
“Kids come up and ask ‘Hey, remember me?’ and a lot of them I do, but of course some I don’t because they’re a year older,” Ms. Gilbert said.
“Sunday was more of a local family day. Everyone reached out and said ‘Thank you so much for coming back.’ It’s very enjoyable for me to be able to do it.”
A number of community members also voiced their support on Facebook.
“My grandson was SO happy to see you!” wrote Nori Scouras.
“Like something was right again in the world …”