Ice cream '˜phenomenon' pulls huge crowd in Morecambe
When hundreds queued excitedly along the street outside a tyre fitters on a dark and rainy night in Morecambe, onlookers wondered what on earth was going on.
Was there a visiting celebrity? Or a major event taking place? Or perhaps they were giving away free tyres?
In actual fact the crowds had come out to buy ice cream.
A touring ice cream van with a cult following had turned up out of the blue at Westgate Tyres and people soon went nuts for its sweet treats.
As news spread of Mister Softee UK’s presence on the tyre firm’s forecourt, customers began to arrive in droves.
“It just shows the power of Facebook,” said Jane Bailey from Westgate Tyres, who watched open-mouthed as people queued from around 6pm on Wednesday until well after it got dark.
Earlier in the day, Prestatyn-based Mister Softee UK – run by ice cream salesman Daniel Thomas – put out a social media post to their 64,000 followers to tease that the van would be in Lancaster that night.
Then just before 6pm came another Facebook post revealing that Mister Softee UK was actually parked at Westgate Tyres.
Within 10 minutes queues began to form down Westgate headed by John Collingwood who won £20 worth of sweet treats for being first there.
Jane said the cult ice cream van’s visit had been hush-hush and last-minute which made the response all the more remarkable.
Mister Softee UK tours all over the country hyping up their trips in advance on Facebook.
“My daughter Sophie had been in touch with them to say they could park on our forecourt,” she said.
“They contacted us about an hour before they turned up and said ‘can we come and use it tonight?’
“We had to step in and control the crowds. People were stopping to ask what it was all about, thinking the ice cream was free.
“They were still queueing in the dark after 10.30pm. Westgate has never been so busy at that time of night.
“If it was a sunny evening you could have understood it but it was raining at one point. People were buying four or five trays of ice cream at a time. It’s a phenomenon.”
So what is the secret of Mister Softee UK’s extraordinary pulling power?
“We don’t just do ice cream – we do all our own mixes with our own ingredients and unusual toppings, and lots of different cakes and desserts,” said Daniel.
“We had a good night in Morecambe. We’ll be back late next week.”
Once again, the actual date, time and location will be top secret.