To say David Rollo has been a permanent fixture at Alive After Five since the Patchogue street festival started 14 years ago would be journalistically inaccurate.
After all, the trucks he’s dished ice cream from on Main Street have all had wheels.
His mobility doesn’t change the fact Rollo’s been working the annual festival since its inception as one of the original vendors. He’s recognized by locals and visitors to the village alike, and this year has been turning heads in his completely rebuilt and retrofitted 1961 Ford ice cream truck bearing his Frostie’s Ice Cream logo.
“When you see that retro truck with the rounded nose, the giant chrome grill and the chrome headlight bezels you just know it’s from that 1950s and 1960s-era,” said Rollo, who lives in Farmingville.
And just like ice cream, the truck itself sparks a lot of nostalgia in adult visitors.
“Alive After Five, people are always asking about it,” he said. “The car shows especially, they want to know what motor’s in it, what drivetrain, what year and make. I get all kinds of questions.”
To answer a few, the body of the 1961 truck was built by the famed Boyertown Auto Body Works with Ford doing the rest.
It now has a late-model Ford 302 engine with a C6 transmission.
Rollo, who traverses all of Suffolk and Nassau counties in his trucks for special events, said he left the manual steering intact to maintain that classic look with the large steering wheel.
“All the interior walls have been redone in stainless steel,” he said. “There’s a new refrigeration box and a late-model ice cream machine. All the electric was redone in the tuck. Power disc brakes have been added.”
“It’s been a big hit at weddings,” he said. “I grew up around these old trucks so it plays a little nostalgic in my life.”
Rollo, who began working on ice cream trucks when he was 8 and bought his first Mister Softee franchise when he was 19 — before going out on his own as Frostie’s Ice Cream some 15 years later — purchased the 1961 truck in December from a fellow ice cream man he’s known for a long time.
He then began restoring the truck, which had started to crumble due to little use, in January.
Rollo said he worked on this exact truck — the one he now owns— on occasion as a teenager alongside its prior owner.
“I actually used to work in this same truck at the Westhampton Dragway on weekends.” he said.
The retro-truck joined his fleet of four other Frostie’s trucks in late June, just in time for the first Alive After Five on July 9.
Frostie’s owner David Rollo serves up a cone at Alive After Five July 9. (Credit: Michael White)