An ice cream shop in Ocala, Florida, is melting under public pressure concerning one of its vanilla ice cream cone costumes, which has been accused of looking like a Ku Klux Klan hood.
The Ice Cream and Sandwich Family Corner shop has received negative local and media attention after having one of its workers stand in front of the store, donning a vanilla ice cream cone costume which was found in a storage closet.
While up close the costume appeared to be a normal scoop of ice cream with sprinkles and a waffle cone, from far away it resembles a Ku Klux Klan hood.
The costume tends to slouch on the employees, making the ice cream swirled top appear more like a hood. Ocala residents claim that they thought a Ku Klux Klan member was protesting in front of the store; one woman was so afraid that she asked her husband to call the police.
Server Jasmine Gonzales reported that during the first few days promoting the costume, sales remained stable. After the two weeks, however, rumors began to circulate, and sales dropped dramatically.
“No harm to nobody. We’re not affiliated with none of that,” said Jasmine Gonzalez, server in the shop.
Fear of the costume does not come completely unwarranted. Florida, especially Central Florida, is known as being one of the hotspots for active Ku Klux Klans in the United States.
In 2004, the Ocala Star-Banner reported two teens dressing up in full Ku Klux Klan costumes to frighten an African American bus driver.
The owners of the store, Jose Cantres and Jesus Diaz, are Puerto Rican, and claim they did not even know who the Ku Klux Klan was before the public discrepancy.
This confusion comes at an inopportune time for the family run store, which is only two-months-old and needs to rake in revenue. The building has been sight to many restaurants in the past, and the store promptly removed its possibly offensive costume when the store became a ghost town and rumors reached the ears of employees.
“We're a friendly environment, family-oriented. We're not [racist]. We're very friendly, very religious,” said manager Liza Diaz.