CASTLETON — Even without the traditional ice cream truck music, kids flock to Adam Babb’s floating ice cream pontoon.
Babb, 17, of Rutland, is the owner and operator of Ice Cream Float. The modified pontoon travels around Lake Bomoseen on weekends selling ice cream treats and other goodies to boaters, Jet Skiers and those on docks.
“I figured it would be more fun not having to work for someone else and probably make more money,” Babb said.
Having put his pontoon into the water Saturday afternoon, Babb worked to put his floating store back together picking up the fallen rack that holds the chips and placing the packages of candy back in their basket.
A small chest freezer, powered Saturday by a battery, and a small counter make up the bulk of his floating shop. A green roof blocks the midday sun from beating directly down on Babb as he works. He said he has plans to add a red-and-white-striped awning over the open part of the pontoon.
Babb said there were still a few kinks to work out on how to keep the freezer properly powered during the up to six-hour shifts he plans to put in on the lake. Already he’s tried a large generator and a battery.
Babb began to modify the pontoon in June and it took about a month before he went out for his first day of business on July 13.
Babb reached out to the Rutland Economic Development Corporation to get help with setting up his business. He also got the idea of calling his business “Ice Cream Float” from REDC, he said.
Lyle Jepson, REDC executive director, said Babb came into the office on June 1 and pitched his idea.
“We did some initial phone calling to make sure this idea was something that could happen,” Jepson said. “Every agency was excited by the prospect. They weren’t aware of a similar type of business; they almost needed to make it up as they went.”
Jepson said Babb is the youngest entrepreneur they’ve worked with since Jepson has been in his position.
“He is an entrepreneur on a mission,” Jepson said. “He is a solid individual, quiet, humble, entrepreneurial. He is the type of young man we definitely want to keep in our community for the benefit of whoever he works for in the future.”
Out at the sand bar in Lake Bomoseen, Craig Buzzell and his daughter Taylor were the first customers of the day. The family, from West Rutland, were out on the lake enjoying the hot summer day with some friends.
“We saw him last weekend,” Buzzell said. “It’s a great idea.”
“That was cool,” Taylor Buzzell added. “I just got ice cream from a boat.”
As Babb speaks with customers, many have questions about what he has to offer as well as ideas about what he could add to the business, whether it be more food and drink options (like beer and hotdogs) or the stereotypical ice cream truck music.
As the pontoon continued across the sandbar, 7-year-old Sevrin Smith had a question for Babb.
“Are the ice cream sandwiches rectangles or circles?” he asked.
They were rectangles and although Sevrin ended up choosing something different, his younger brother Winston and his mother Caroline Smith went with the classic treat.
Winston said he hadn’t ever had one from a boat before.
“I had when I was 2, at my house,” he said.
Having finished his treat before his older brother Sevrin ordered, Winston asked his mother about the next time they get ice cream from the boat.
“Can I have that?” he asked pointing to his brother’s ice cream bar.
Even the youngest Smith, Charlie, got a taste of a treat, trying a little of the vanilla ice cream in his mother’s ice cream sandwich.
The Smith family, from Winooski, or their ancestors have had a camp on the lake for 100 years.
“It’s perfect, ice cream and summer,” Caroline Smith said.