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Lebanon ice cream shop reopening offers a taste of sweet ‘normalcy’

  • Jennifer Struble walks back to her Lebanon, N.H., home with her bearded dragon and a cup of ice cream from Dairy Twirl, Friday, May 22, 2020. Struble said the reptile loves the heat, and temperatures rose into the 80’s on the first day the ice cream stand was able to open with social distancing precautions in place. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Molly Pelletier, middle, takes orders from Katie Ouelette, right, and her daughters Barrett, 12, left, and Hadley, 8, at Dairy Twirl in Lebanon, N.H., Friday, May 22, 2020. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Wayne Hayes, of West Lebanon, distributes ice cream to Linda Perkins, left, and Art Perkins, second from left, as his wife Sharon places orders at Dairy Twirl on the ice cream stand’s opening day in Lebanon, N.H., Friday, May 22, 2020. The friends were first in line and came to celebrate Linda Perkins’ 69th birthday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dairy Twirl devotee Kelly Whalen, of Lebanon, right, maintains and Instagram account chronicaling her visits to the Lebanon, N.H., ice cream stand. Whalen and friends, from left, Avery Tishue, Savannah Woolston Riley Chien, Vivian Sabla, and Nicole Loeven, all of Lebanon, made their first trip of the year out for ice cream on opening day. “We were planning on being the first ones here, but when I drove up early I was shocked there were already 10 people in line,” said Sabla. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/22/2020 9:16:04 PM
Modified: 5/23/2020 2:20:29 PM

LEBANON — After months of lockdown and isolation amid the coronavirus outbreak, a sign of hope — and summer — sat outside the Lebanon Dairy Twirl this week.

“Orange, pineapple and pistachio week” the sign read in big block letters, inviting passersby to the packed parking lot of the Mechanic Street ice cream stand Friday morning.

“It’s a nice way to get outside,” said Dartmouth College graduate student Kelly Whalen, “It’s a sense of normalcy.”

Whalen was one of many people who flooded the beloved dessert spot for its season reopening Friday.

The Dairy Twirl, which has been a staple in the Lebanon community since 1975, normally opens for summer in April, but due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the date was pushed back to late May, owner Cinnamon Murray said.

And, after months of waiting, Murray said the community responded with excitement when she announced the reopening on Facebook Wednesday.

“Social media was blowing up,” she said. “Really, it’s a social gathering for people. ... I’ve had people come up and say ‘I’m so glad you’re open.’ ”

In preparation for opening, Murray doubled her staff, so some employees handle only the money and others handle only the food, and mandated that all employees must wear face masks and gloves, she said. She also brought some fun elements, like a “doggie dish” which is a small scoop of vanilla ice cream with a dog bone, and new rotating flavors: orange, pineapple and pistachio.

Many customers who packed into the parking lot Friday afternoon honored social distancing guidelines. Some wore masks in the 80-degree weather — though many others didn’t — but everyone made sure to stay several feet apart from one another in line. In lieu of outdoor seating, several families took their treats back to their cars, sitting in their trunks with feet dangling over the edge, enjoying the moment.

That was the case for Brooke Therriault, a Lebanon resident, and her three children, who enjoyed bowls of vanilla ice cream — the best flavor, her daughter said — from the back of her car.

“We always come out for opening day,” at Dairy Twirl, Therriault said, adding that she’s been coming to the spot for years. “It would have been hard not to have this place.”

She took a break from talking to wave goodbye to a couple of friends leaving with their ice cream cones, before adding that she was “relieved” to get outside and see people.

“It’s a little normalcy,” she said, echoing Whalen. “We can breathe a little.”

For Whalen and her friends, the reopening was especially significant. The group runs a Dairy Twirl appreciation account on Instagram called @DairyTwirlDiaries where they post pictures of their favorite ice creams from the beloved spot.

The moment they saw Murray’s post about reopening, the friends started flooding each other with texts, Whalen said.

“Immediately the group chat started going. We were like, ‘It’s on. We’re going. Twirl into it,’ ” Whalen said with a laugh, explaining that the last remark is one the group often uses to caption their Instagram posts. She said several friends got “Razzles,” which is soft-serve ice cream mixed with toppings, and others got cones. “It was such a beautiful day and it started out with ice cream.”

Lauren Baratta, another Lebanon resident, has been waiting for this opening day. She said she recently discovered the ice cream spot and has been watching the Facebook page for a month, deciding which flavor she would get when it finally opened.

“I’m planning on coming every weekend,” she said, adding “It feels like summer.”

Anna Merriman can be reached at amerriman@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.




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