Scoop San Diego ice cream festival raises money for the Monarch School for homeless children

Brittany Jackson, left, and Lexi Martinez scoop ice cream during the first annual Scoop San Diego Ice Cream Festival in North Park on Sunday. The two were graduates of the Monarch School and were serving a special honey rosemary ice cream made by Stella Jeans Ice Cream with rosemary grown at the school. The event featured a variety of ice cream and gelato vendors from San Diego with the proceeds going to the Monarch School, which supports homeless youth in San Diego with educational needs.
(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Hundreds of people flocked to North Park for the first Scoop San Diego Ice Cream Festival on Sunday — which raised roughly $10,000 for the Monarch School for homeless children.

A disc jockey played music as people of all ages tasted gourmet gelato and ice cream from some of the city’s top venders, from Stella Jean’s to Mariposa Ice Cream to Gelati & Peccati.

“Our vision is to celebrate the joy of ice cream as a catalyst for social connection and human compassion,” said Daniel Szpak, 57, founder of Scoop San Diego, the nonprofit behind the philanthropic festival.

The 57-year-old co-founded Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream in North Park in 2014, but has since moved on to become a research nurse at UC San Diego. Now he’s blending his confectionery proclivities with his desire to make a difference in people’s lives.

“Every year, we’re going to do an ice cream festival, and I want to give back to the community,” he said. “My husband and I donate to the school, so I thought this would be a really perfect first-year beneficiary.”

Monarch has operated in San Diego for more than 30 years, expanding over the years into a K-12 school, according to group’s website.

The folks from Stella Jean’s recently went to the Monarch School and taught kids how to make ice cream. Using ingredients from the school’s garden, they created a honey rosemary ice cream that was being sold at the festival.

“It turned out really great,” said co-founder Gan Suebsarakham. “It was a good fun. There were super excited.”

Sunday’s event kicked off around 11 a.m. and continued through 4 p.m. along North Park Way between 29th and 30th streets. Tickets to the event, which were $20 to $35, sold out.

“It’s for a good cause and, I mean, it’s ice cream,” said volunteer organizer Ivonne Arias, 28, who met Szpak through work at the UCSD Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, where she’s a social worker. “As soon as he told me, I was so excited because I have such a sweet tooth.”

Noel Garcia, 25, said he came out to the event for “summer and ice cream. They kind of intertwine with one another.”

His girlfriend, Carolyn Tran, 23, said she was motivated to attend after learning the proceeds were going to help homeless youth. “I was like that’s really cool. I’m a big advocacy person.”

Wyatt Hopwood, 24, walked to the event with his 18-month-old son from their home in North Park.

“He loves ice cream. That’s it, basically,” he said, adding that he didn’t know about the charitable aspect of the event. “I did not. That’s awesome.”

James Camacho, 34, drove up from Chula Vista for the ice cream festival. “I love eating. I’m a huge foodie. I come to all kinds of food festivals in general, hamburger festivals, beer festivals.”

He said the philanthropic aspect of the event was “definitely a bonus. Might as well do it for a good cause, right?”

Over venders at the event included Gelato Love, Snoice, EscoGelato, Cabetos Pops, JoJo’s Creamery, Big Haus Dessert & Coffee, Buona Forchetta and others. All the of businesses donated their product and time for the event.

Sign up for the Pacific Insider newsletter

PACIFIC magazine delivers the latest restaurant and bar openings, festivals and top concerts, every Tuesday.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Pacific San Diego.