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Astoria trio take invention to Caribbean

Ice Riders NYC owners Jet Thomason (l.-r.), Chelesa Barker and David Burdick at the LIC Flea. Courtesy Ice Riders NYC
TimesLedger Newspapers

The breakout stars of the LIC Flea’s inaugural season were front and center all along. Ice Riders NYC, three transplanted Southerners now living in Astoria, saw their business explode thanks to a unique invention and a prime spot at the flea market that closed for the season last Sunday.

The young trio developed an original concept for creating flavored ices, something they found lacking since migrating north. Jet Thomason, a cyclist from Texas, was surprised he could not find a flavored ice in Times Square a year ago when the idea struck. He designed a bicycle-powered machine that shaves a block of ice, his friend David Burdick built it and his girlfriend Chelsea Barker provided much of the pedal power riding 6-10 miles a day.

Southern charm complete with cowboy hats and handlebar mustaches, a cool-looking machine and a refreshing treat during the warm weather led to lines of customers all summer long.

“We loved the spot they gave us,” Thomason said. “We were the first to sign on, so they gave us the spot just inside the gate, no extra charge.”

Ice Riders NYC became popular with the media, which added to their exposure.

“Anytime someone did a story on the Flea, they included us in it,” said Thomason.

Originally designed with street fairs in mind, their exposure at the flea market led to many more events.

“We handed out so many business cards and fliers and did so many private parties and corporate events that we were overbooked. We had to build a second machine because we were so busy,” Thomason recalled this week after Ice Riders NYC was hired to work the Pearl Jam concert at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

The prototype machine they built last year would have made MacGyver proud.

“We had this old mountain bike attached to some Kmart cabinets with zip ties,” said Thomas. “It looked like some weird science project.”

The second machine was more streamlined and the trio adapted well to the Flea’s atmosphere.

“For a mobile vendor it became our home base and we socialized so well it didn’t feel like work at all,” said Thomas. “And we did it well, we made it the entire way without one complaint and in the food service that’s really saying something.”

Ice Riders NYC is relocating to the Virgin Islands for the winter.

“David’s heading down their with the new machine next week and Chelsea and I will join him after the first of the year,” Thomason said, “We’ll be back in April for the second year at the Flea.”

Reach Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-2604538.

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