Tuesday, April 9, is free cone day at Ben & Jerry’s. That means exactly what it says — free ice cream cones all day.

It’s a tradition the Ben & Jerry’s founders started more than 30 years ago, on the anniversary of their first store opening. The original location was in Burlington, Vt., and the owners were appreciative that people bought so much ice cream, especially during the cold Vermont winters. Free Cone Day is their way of saying “thank you” for the community’s support. Tuesday, Ben & Jerry’s plans to give away more than 1 million cones worldwide.

Roger Bubel, chief scooper at the Ben & Jerry’s in downtown Napa for the last twelve years, looks forward to this day every year. “We give away over 4,000 cones a year, and love doing it.”

Bubel is a community-oriented guy, and he added a new twist to Free Cone Day, that to his knowledge,  no other Ben & Jerry’s does. He invites local schools and nonprofits to scoop ice cream and keep all the tips.

“It’s supposed to be about thanking the community, and this is a way to take that a step further,” Bubel said.

The tips can be pretty substantial, too. For one group, that meant more than $1,000 last year.

Mayor Jill Techel will open the event at noon. Police and firefighters start scooping in a “tip-off” to see which group can raise the most money for Volunteer Center of Napa. The American Cancer Society takes over at 1:45 p.m., followed by New Tech High at 3:30 p.m. Napa High starts scooping at 5 p.m. and Vintage High wraps the day up starting at 6:30 p.m.

Bring your sweet tooth and a tip for your favorite group to 1299 Napa Town Center, near First and Randolph.

If you’re up early today...

You can learn the history of Napa’s riverboat captains and their spectacular mansions near the riverfront on Napa County Landmarks Riverboat Captains and Mansions District walking tour. The tour will take guests around the historic Napa Abajo neighborhood, among the oldest neighborhoods in the City of Napa. Today at 10 a.m. Tickets are $10/members and $20/general. Check-in between 9:30 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. in the parking lot in front of the Napa Mill (Hatt Building) at 500 Main St.

You can get anything you want ...

If you finished that with “at Alice’s Restaurant,” then you remember Arlo Guthrie. Besides his own successful career, he is also the son of Woody Guthrie, and throughout the years has honored his father in song. With the centennial of Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday in 2012, Arlo continues the celebration of his dad’s immeasurable contributions to the landscape of American folk music. Arlo Guthrie’s “Here Comes the Kid” concert will be playing at the Napa Valley Opera House, April 20. Visit NVOH.org for tickets.

See you downtown!

Craig Smith is the executive director of the Napa Downtown Association, and can be reached at craig@donapa.com or 257-0322.

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