The familiar jingle of bells in summer can only mean one thing: Manny, the ice cream man, is nearby.
No matter how old, no one can resist the best ice cream, candy and soda being dispensed throughout the village by Aristomenis “Manny” Kolokathis. With a truck full of 50 items to choose from, including kosher and allergy-friendly options, there’s a treat for everyone.
Kolokathis has been operating his familiar ice cream truck since the 1990s, though he has been in the ice cream business for as long as he can remember. His father, John, started his ice cream truck in the ’80s and his uncles on his mother’s side had been in the ice cream business since the ’70s. Kolokathis’ uncles also had an ice cream depot.
After his father suffered a stroke, Kolokathis took over the ice cream truck more than 25 years ago. Around 15 years ago, Kolokathis made his way to Scarsdale, with his sister, Maria, coming in to help on busy days.
“I tell some counselors [at the Scarsdale Rec Camp] that I remember giving ice cream to them when they were the campers’ age,” Kolokathis said.
“I remember when I was in elementary school and he came to the Fox Meadow fair; I thought his trash bin was the coolest thing ever,” said Sloane Pick, a 2016 Scarsdale High School graduate, referencing the hole on the truck that had a dragon painted around it so it looks like children are feeding the dragon.
Youngsters aren’t the only ones who rush to get a cold treat. “It was always a good day when he came to the high school during fifth [period],” said Julia Zecchini, another 2016 SHS grad.
Kolokathis was born in the United States, but his parents decided to move back to Greece when he was 10 years old. As a child in the United States, Kolokathis got to join his father in the ice cream truck and see all the ins and outs of the business.
After moving to Greece, John stopped operating an ice cream truck and started a plastic bag factory. Kolokathis worked at the factory for a while, but decided it wasn’t for him. After finishing high school in Greece, Kolokathis moved back to the United States and took over his father’s ice cream truck.
Over the years, the business has changed. Since his is a seasonal occupation, Kolokathis can usually only operate the truck for seven months out of the year. In the off-season he goes to Greece for a month, visiting family and tending to olive trees, and when he’s back in the States he works as a cab driver or waiter. Cold spells in fall and spring can make it hard for him to sell, since people tend to line up for ice cream in better weather.
“The summer is hard, it’s every day putting in a lot of hours in the truck,” said Kolokathis, who noted his truck does not have air conditioning. “I’m used to it though, I like it."
Kolokathis also launched a website this year (icecreamforfun.com) to make it easier for residents and organizations to book him for events.
The most memorable event Kolokathis worked was back in the late ’90s when he was hired to give out ice cream after tapings of “Late Show with David Letterman.” Everyone in the audience was given a ticket and rushed outside to get a popsicle or ice cream. Even though he catered this event twice, Kolokathis never got to meet Letterman.
During one of these events the heath department tried to shut the truck down because Kolokathis was not permitted to peddle outside the building.
“The guys who were in charge were like bodyguards, saying, ‘Hey, don’t touch the truck,’” Kolokathis said. When the health department asked why, the men in charge said the truck was there for Letterman’s show. “They asked, ‘Who is David Letterman, God?’ and [the men in charge] said, ‘Yes, he’s God.’ That was really fun.”
Other, more common events that Kolokathis attends include birthdays, picnics, corporate events and camp events.
“[The best part] is making the kids happy,” Kolokathis said. “I like to see the smile on their face. Scarsdale is a wonderful community and I’m grateful — honored to be a part of it, and a big thank you to all residents for having and supporting me all these years.”