OAKLAND, Calif. - In a show of community support, hundreds of Oakland residents showed up on Saturday to support an elderly ice cream cart vendor who was robbed at gunpoint last week.
The vendor, known to customers as Don Juan, was trying to keep up with ice cream sales on Saturday at the Fruitvale Station in East Oakland, not far from where he was robbed, when KTVU caught up with him.
People of all ages turned out to buy out the 80-year-old Don Juan’s inventory of Chipwhiches, Drumsticks, Creamsicles and popsicles out of his white cart covered with stickers.
The event was organized by the Alameda County Fire Department, NorCalRacing and others from the community who wanted to show support for the elderly man who supports himself and his family in Peru with his earnings from selling frozen treats.
Alameda County Fire Division Chief Randall West was thrilled to see a huge turnout for the event.
"We do more than just go fight fires, we support our community, and this is what it’s about," West said. "Being community strong and community aware. It’s definitely a plus that we get to buy ice cream and popsicles."
Christian from Hayward was also involved in organizing the event on behalf of a local car club NorCalRacing.
"There’s always good things in Oakland, you don’t always look at the bad," he told KTVU. "The community came out to support, that’s what matters. And we made it happen."
Joanna Garcia Salazar helped post flyers for the ice cream buyout event around the neighborhood and on social media.
"I don’t understand what these people are thinking," she said of the robbery. "There’s a level of respect for our elders and our elders are never, ever to be touched. "
As Don Juan sold his ice cream at a rapid clip, Garcia Salazar commented on the hundreds who turned out.
"Very happy and excited to see that, we need to support each other," Garcia Salazar said. "Not only here, [but] always when we see our elders on the street, buy them an ice cream!’’
As for Don Juan, he was all too happy to be busy selling his frozen treats and posing for photos.
He smiled and in Spanish said, "I am so grateful and feel thankful! There are bad people in the world and good people in the world, and these are the good people."
Alice Wertz is a freelance reporter for KTVU Fox 2 News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org follow her at Twitter @AlicesTake or Instagram/Threads @WayIseesIt