COVID strikes again. Rita's Italian Ice announced this week it is canceling its popular free water ice day that is held each year on the first day of spring, due to the pandemic.

In a social media post. Rita's said its 28-year tradition of giving out free water ice to celebrate the arrival of spring is too dangerous this year on Saturday, March 20th because of the large crowds the event causes.

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Rita's made the difficult decision to cancel this year's event to avoid large gatherings which have the potential to spread COVID-19.

While its stores are open for business, the company said it made the move to cancel Free Ice Day to "keep everyone safe."

"While we can't celebrate together, we plan on celebrating those who have been keeping us safe throughout the year. Don't worry, we're still open for business, and we look forward to seeing you soon."

For nearly nearly 30 years, Rita's has offered its famous free water ice giveaway at its eateries that has expanded to more than 600 locations in over 30 states.

Rita's was started in Bensalem, Pa., in 1984 by Philadelphia firefighter Bob Tumolo, who named the business after his wife after including fresh fruit to his family's water ice recipe.

The move comes as states rush to distribute COVID vaccines. Here in New Jersey, experts are still warning residents to continue wearing masks and avoid crowded places despite a recent trend of rising vaccinations and lowering COVID positivity rates.

By the way, Rita's says they are looking forward to returning to their free first day of spring water ice giveaway in 2022.

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