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Community spotlight: Erik Lafave

I scream, you scream, we all scream for the ice cream guy

February 24, 2016
By John Morton ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Q: You are a Fort Myers Beach resident who mans an ice cream cart on the beach. How does it feel to be the most popular person out there?

A: "It feels pretty amazing. Most jobs, you end up dreading seeing the customers but I have the best customers in the world - everyones happy to see me, unless I wake them up. Until I started this job I was never one for pictures, and now I have my picture taken at least 50 times a day."

Q: You have a horn you honk and some other tricks up your sleeve. How much showmanship do you put into it all?

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Erik Lafave serves up some treats on Fort Myers Beach.

A: "Showmanship is the name of the game here. You can get ice cream from as dozen places around here, but for some people, part of their vacation is the ice cream cart. If you're going to yell and make noise as loud as you can, you gotta throw some 'Arndt' and a little pizzazz in there or people just get annoyed from loud noises."

Q: How did you get into this?

A: "Well, I lived up north most of my life while my Dad lived here on the island. One day, I decided that if I was going to make sandwiches for a living, I may as well live in paradise while I do it. So I quit my job and came here with no plan. As luck would have it, one of my Dad's oldest friends here - and someone I knew all my childhood - was pushing the cart for the past seven years. When he saw me, I mentioned I was looking for a job and here I am."

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Q: How many miles do you log during a shift?

A: "I'm not entirely sure. I usually go from the Neptune to the Best Western to DiamondHead and back to the Neptune."

Q: What is the most popular request? And what is the most bizarre request you've gotten?

A: "It's really hard to say what's the most popular. The carts been around for 70 years, so it's pretty dialed in. Every time I try thinking of the most popular, it really changes. Some days I'll sell out of crunch bars and nothing else will be touched, while other days I'll be low on everything and have not sold a single crunch bar. Maybe ice cream sandwiches are the most stable sellers, but they don't fly out very often. The strangest thing is people ask me where to buy 'other things' all of the time because there was some scene in a Cheech and Chong movie. I've never seen the movie. I sell ice cream, that's it."

Q: Time to be honest do you ever sneak a lick or a slurp of anything?

A: "I try and not eat any of the product because I want to lose weight, not because it's taboo. If something breaks or is otherwise unsellable, I'm welcome to chow down."

(Community Spotlight features a resident each week who has an interesting occupation, activity, or story to tell. Please submit subjects you feel are worthy of some recognition to editor John Morton by calling 765-0400, ext. 102, or by email at



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