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INDOMITABLE SNOW CONE: The non-profit Sasquatch Shaved Ice is open for business in the Plaza District.

Photo Courtesy of Sasquatch Shaved Ice
Customers of Sasquatch Shaved Ice beating the heat in the Plaza District.
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OKLAHOMA CITY—As the notorious Oklahoma summer sun starts to take hold, few things can truly beat the heat of a miserable afternoon like a frosty snow cone. Located in the Plaza District, the newly-minted Sasquatch Shaved Ice has arrived to not only chill out the residents and neighbors but, as a very specialized non-profit, give back to the community in a very cool way.

“We moved into Classen Ten-Penn almost two years ago and we would have kids want to mow our lawn or wash our windows and we realized one of the things missing from the neighborhood was the opportunity for teens to work,” Whitley O'Connor, director of Sasquatch said.  “I started doing research into that and it seemed like a national trend suggesting that future low-income backgrounds were less than half as likely than their more wealthy colleagues to have summer employment opportunities.”

Working alongside noted developer Steve Mason and Curbside Chronicle founder Ranya O’Connor, O’Connor developed a plan to help bring the neighborhood of Classen Ten-Penn closer to the Plaza District by helping to employ the area teens, “giving them practical skills by putting them to work and helping them earn some money.” It was then that the idea for a non-profit summer snow cone stand was formulated.

The resulting project, Sasquatch Shaved Ice, employs low-income youth from the Classen Ten-Penn neighborhood of Oklahoma City while serving “some of the best frozen treats this side of the Mississippi.” Through a partnership with Oklahoma Employee Credit Union, they provide financial literacy training to their employees and match dollar-for-dollar everything they save towards higher education, transportation, and other “life-enriching opportunities. “

“We teach them job skills they’ll need in the future,” O’Connor said.  “We have OECU partnering with us so they’ll learn how to save and spend responsibly, and we incentivize that through a matching program. The kids are required to save a least 10% of their paycheck into their savings account, and most of them have opted to save more than that, understanding the significance of being able to double their money pretty quickly.”

Sadly, the project was not without controversy: a few opponents of the project, many of whom didn’t care for O’Connor’s idea of using a refurbished shipping container as a storefront, citing “architectural” issues with the program, tried to stop it before it started, to no avail. It’s a “blemish of negativity” that O’Connor said, especially in light of the rousing success Sasquatch has turned out to be, he would like to put behind him.

“We’ve seen people from all over come out and enjoy our snow cones, and I really think we’ve met a need in the Plaza and filled a hole for a lower-priced product and I think most people appreciate what we’re doing,” O’Connor said, “There’s always going to be this debate surrounding gentrification in the Plaza and the neighborhoods as a whole, as we see property values going up in Classen Ten-Penn, with neighbors being priced out.”

Open throughout the summer on the corner of N.W. 16th and Blackwelder, O’Connor said that depending on the strength and sustainability of this initial offering, they’d love to expand in other low-income neighborhoods with similar needs and have already begun looking for spots. But, until then, the public is encouraged come out to the original, now featuring over 100 individual snowcone flavors, the most in Oklahoma.

“It really is a good shop,” O’Connor said. “It’s just a really cool experience; it’s not your traditional little snowcone stand. With a wide range of tasting opportunities, people can have a great time trying out these wacky flavors, everything from cherry to plum, enjoying themselves while they give back to the youth of this community. We have a good business and we have great snowcones. It’s a cool place to hang-out and have a cool treat this summer.”

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Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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