Lucy Rosenberg, a first-grader without any top front teeth, somehow managed to smile Friday morning at Ebinport Elementary School in Rock Hill – a smile that lit up the whole cafeteria.
That 7-year-old smiled because she had ice cream for breakfast, her late father’s dying wish, and she sure loved her dad more than anything – even more than ice cream. “It is just awesome,” Lucy said. “Ice cream for breakfast. My dad wanted everybody to do it. This year we are sharing it with the whole first grade.” And kindergarten, too. And the whole world. Joy, in the face of death, the Rosenberg way.
“Ice Cream for Breakfast Day” all started right here in Rock Hill, with a dying father and husband who refused to cry. Lucy, her mom, Julie Rosenberg, and sister, Ella, and many more doled out ice cream to the entire first grade on Friday, the third annual “Ice Cream for Breakfast Day.”
Lucy’s father wanted the world to not just observe this day, but to dive into it with a spoon and sprinkles and whipped cream.
Bruce Rosenberg died two years ago after being diagnosed with cancer three years ago Friday. Before he died, he urged people to laugh and love, live and hug. He was dying, but he refused to feel sorry for himself.
He played “The Lord of the Rings” online and ate ice cream for breakfast. Even better, he asked people to stop fretting one day a year, hide the shredded wheat and bran flakes, and eat ice cream for breakfast on March 21 – the day he was told the cancer was so bad he would surely die. Julie Rosenberg told the kids at Ebinport on Friday that she was honored to share ice cream and smiles with all of them. Even when “bad things happen,” she said, “you can still enjoy life.” Ella Rosenberg, now a teenager, said her father “would have loved to have seen all these kids having ice cream.” Ebinport Principal Shane Goodwin was thrilled to interrupt classes for a few minutes Friday so the kids could enjoy some ice cream and some kindness from a family that has been through so much. “Want sprinkles with that?” Goodwin asked the kids waiting in line for their treat. “How about some whipped cream? Step right up, and get your ice cream!” At cafeteria tables, the kids ate birthday cake ice cream and vanilla ice cream and more. They got whipped cream on their noses. They licked their fingers and spoons.
School was never so great. Ebinport was not the only place where people ate ice cream for breakfast on Friday. The idea has become an international phenomenon, spurred on by The Herald’s coverage of Bruce Rosenberg’s heroic battle with cancer and his family’s courageous decision to make the day special for countless others. The idea took Facebook and other social media by storm.
Friendly’s Ice Cream even posted a link to The Herald’s coverage on its Facebook page.
Last year, more than 30,000 people worldwide ate ice cream for breakfast. By 9 p.m. Thursday – morning on the other side of the world – pictures were being posted online showing people enjoying ice cream for breakfast in Australia, New Zealand and Borneo.
Then it was Europe and the Middle East. By Friday morning in the Western Hemisphere, people were posting their ice cream for breakfast pictures. Before sunrise, the numbers were spiking in the U.S. from Alabama to Wisconsin – the dairy state – to California. There was even a picture of a dog eating ice cream. “It is awesome,” said Lucy Rosenberg. “I guess we started this, my dad did.” The family sat in the school cafeteria, taking in the maelstrom of fat and calories and smiles that circled the earth. “My dad wanted this,” said Ella Rosenberg. “He was pretty awesome.” “It is a whole lot of awesomeness,” said Julie Rosenberg. “Super awesome,” said Principal Goodwin. Right there in the middle of it all, Lucy Rosenberg ate her ice cream without front teeth. “You don’t need front teeth to have ice cream for breakfast,” she said. “You don’t even have to have front teeth to have a big smile.
“You just gotta have love.”