This summer may prove to be a little less refreshing for some South Bethany beachgoers, and undoubtedly a little dissatisfying for some local businesses. For 14 years, Jeff McMahon has been assisting his father, Melvin, with his summertime business selling flavored snowballs to customers of all ages, perusing the town limits for customers in their white-and-red trucks. A resolution was adopted by the town council, however, at the end of last year, placing a moratorium on all beach and street vendors within town limits, starting on Dec. 14, 2007, and running until March 15, 2009.
The decision was made by the town council, whose members cited several reasons for the resolution, including citizen complaints, traffic congestion, citizens’ safety and other unknowns that might accompany the beach’s recent reconstruction.
Jeff McMahon and his father said they are both appalled at the decision that will keep them from continuing the snowball business that they have established in the town, summer after summer.
“I’ve been helping my father ever since we started,” said Jeff McMahon, now 26 years old. “As soon as I got my license, I was helping him drive the trucks along Ocean Drive”
The McMahon’s “Go Melvo” Snoball business was the oldest, current-running vendor in the trade within the corporate limits of the town. The past few years have seen an increase in those vendors, and consequently, coaxed more attention from locals, both positive and negative. Last year, four vendors traveled the beaches and streets of South Bethany, including Ocean Drive.
“This is what we do every summer,” said Melvin McMahon. “We’ve established ourselves in the community and we’ve watched these families grow up every year. I don’t understand how the town can just take something away that’s been here for so long. There are going to be a lot of confused and disappointed families here this summer.”
Jeff McMahon said he feels that the decision to do away with beach vendors altogether is unjust to what he and his father have started.
“I know it looks bad when you have us and an ice cream truck running the same street, but it’s the town’s fault for issuing licenses out to these people in the first place. What do they expect? It’s just not fair what they’re doing to us.”
Melvin McMahon insisted that over the course of his work in South Bethany, his business had never previously received any complaints.
“We haven’t had any accidents,” he emphasized. He has been contracted to work out of local campgrounds, and at functions, such as opening day for Sussex Little League at the Pyle Center in Millville.
“We’re a part of this community,” he said. “We’re a staple here. People know us. I don’t think the council realizes what we do for the town.”
Jeff McMahon added that returning employees, including people in South Bethany, have worked for the snowball company.
“We help employ people here,” he said.
Jeff McMahon stated that the “Go Melvo” business had offered to contribute money to fund the town’s enlarged beach patrol — upped this year for the replenishment’s beach expansion, a financial burden estimated to cost roughly $5,000 per each lifeguard.
“I had always assumed we were a part of town here, from Memorial Day to Labor Day,” said Jeff McMahon. “Any of these problems that the town is complaining about would be solved if we continued to be the sole vendors. This job is my life, and it upsets me that they can just take it away from us.”
Melvin and Jeff McMahon plan to approach the council with an attorney at the next council meeting, May 9 at Town Hall at 7 p.m., to address the issue. They have gathered signatures in the form of a petition, favoring their return to distribute snowballs for the upcoming summer season. They are encouraging any feedback from beachgoers, homeowners and citizens supporting their cause.
Those wishing to back the McMahons cause can contact them via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Jeff McMahon at (410) 916-1799.
“We don’t want anything more than to be out there 90 days a summer,” said Jeff McMahon. “For 14 years, we haven’t done anything but make people happy, and we want to keep doing that.”