The Kona Shaved Ice Truck dropped by the Boys & Girls Club… (Joe Soriero, Baltimore…)
The temperatures may no longer be topping records as they were for a time in mid-July, but with the dog days of August and early September looming in Anne Arundel County and elsewhere, few are forgetting the importance of finding ways of keeping chill.
Take "Kona Chris" O'Kieffe of Edgewater. A year ago, he concluded that the old-style ice cream trucks he'd loved as a boy were a dying institution.
A dad himself, he says the trucks have come to seem less than clean, even a little secretive. "And people have been hearing those same ice-cream jingles through bad speakers for 50 years," he says.
Today, if you see him coming, it's likely at the wheel of the rolling, multicolored beach shack he bought in June. The county's first franchisee for a five-year-old company, Kona Shaved Ice, O'Kieffe, 42, has staked his future on updating the image of the old-time Good Humor Man.
A faux thatched roof sits atop the truck, Caribbean-style steel drum music pours from Bose speakers and kids from Edgewater to Severna Park have been lining up for the chance to pump syrup (20 flavors) into cups stuffed with slivers of ice.
Luckily, it's not necessary to sink your savings into staying cool. The Baltimore Sun found 14 other ways to slip the heat — some tried and true, some strange and new, some no more pricey than a trayful of Kona treats — all but one without leaving the county.
A few might might even leave you feeling as giddy as Kona Chris in July.
"When the weather's like this, I'm every kid's hero," he says.
Ice cream and more
The county features ice cream aplenty, from four Stone Cold Creamery stores to the familiar independent shops on Main Street in Annapolis, but it's hard to top a few even cooler things.
A year or so ago, the Annapolis shop in which Christina Akay was working closed, and she had to come up with a new line of work. A lover of healthy desserts, she decided to take a sugary summer staple and make it tasty and sustainable. She started POPular Pops, an operation that serves up gourmet popsicles in flavors like watermelon mint, peanut butter and jelly and pineapple basil, all made from natural ingredients.
They're available at the Westfield Annapolis Farmers' Market, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on any summer Sunday, at, ahem, $2.50 a pop.
What's cool: Akay uses produce grown on local farms. She recently peeled 40 pounds of peaches from Shlagel Farms in Waldorf to create the ginger peach flavor.
The lines can be as long as an Arctic trail at Menchie's, a do-it-yourself frozen yogurt shop that opened in Annapolis Town Centre last year. The flavors, from pomegranate and cake batter to red velvet (all customer favorites), rotate daily, with 10 or so available from six serving stations at any given time; you can swirl two flavors together if you wish.
Owners place no limit on the quantity of toppings (cheesecake bits, Lucky Charms, fresh fruit) you may pile onto your theoretically low-fat treat.
What's cool: It's kid-friendly, featuring hula hoops and a big chalkboard.
And for those with monster appetites, Chick and Ruth's Delly in Annapolis — perhaps best known for its gut-busting sandwiches — serves a chilly colossus known as the Six-Pound Milkshake ($16.50). Served in a hurricane glass, it's so massive at 110 ounces that if a customer orders one carry-out, it fills three extra-large containers.
The restaurant sells about 60 per day during hot summer weekends; employees say only about 5 percent of those who face the beast alone complete the mission.
What's cool: Customers must sign a waiver vowing to visit the bathroom if things get shaky. "You laugh, but we have to work here," manager Nancy Trudeau says.
Taking to the water
Anne Arundel famously boasts more than its share of million-dollar yachts, but you needn't belong to the upper crust to take to the county's cool waters.
At Paddle or Pedal, based in Annapolis' Quiet Waters Park, you can rent anything from a singe or twin kayak to a family-friendly pedal boat that seats four. Rentals range from $15 for an hour's use to $60 for a whole day.
Maneuver your way across tranquil Harness Creek or, if you're more nautically experienced, onto the much busier South River; return any time you wish, so long as it's before 5 p.m.
What's cool: Try a stand-up paddleboard, a 12-foot-long surfboardlike vessel you paddle as though you were upright in a canoe. "You may not realize it at the time, but it's a good workout for your core," says manager Lauren Devin, who will offer pointers free of charge.
For nearly a decade, little buccaneers have loved Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake, a seafarers' delight based in Annapolis that offers a choice of six 75-minute voyages every summer day.
Their faces painted Blackbeard-style, guest brigands seek sunken treasure, puzzle through messages in a bottle and even fire one of the ship's 14 high-powered water cannon, should the crew's arch-enemy, Pirate Pete, pull his craft up alongside.