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Social Signals Unofficial End Of Summer
It wasn't quite the 31 flavors offered by some retail ice cream outlets, but there was plenty of variety at Saturday night's annual Ice Cream Social hosted at the Escalon United Methodist Church.

All homemade, the ice cream flavors ranged from pineapple to chocolate, strawberry to peach, with some toppings to go along with the cool treat and a wide selection of pies, brownies, and other sweets.

"They look forward to it," chairperson Annabelle Martin said of local residents flocking to the annual event. "They like the ice cream and the social part ... we've really got a crowd tonight, more than usual."

Opening up at 7 p.m., the line was nearly out the door of the church on Jackson Avenue, but the wait didn't seem very long as people standing in line chatted and got caught up on all the summer news, with the start of the new school year just around the corner.

Martin said publicity about the event was more widespread this year, possibly leading to the increased attendance. Flyers distributed not only in Escalon but also in neighboring towns helped get the word out.

"We make it at home and bring it in," Martin added of the ice cream, which was made by several church members. "It's all homemade, there's no (store) bought ice cream here."

Martin whipped up a couple batches, contributing strawberry and chocolate to the server's table.

Many of the pies were homemade as well, but those are always the first pieces to get snatched up, she said.

There is no cost for the ice cream social, but donations are accepted and go to the general fund at the church. Nearly every table was full in the church social hall, with some people even opting to sit outside in the cool night breeze to share dessert.

Enjoying a dish of ice cream himself after first making several stops to visit around the hall, church pastor David Niu said the ice cream social is something that people have come to depend on over the years.

"It's tradition, that's a big part of it," Rev. Niu said of drawing the crowd. "They always look forward to the ice cream."

Mom Shayla Fowler had to make a pit stop in the kitchen, to wipe the chocolate ice cream off the face of son Jayden, 3.

"We're members of the church," she said, "and this gives us a chance to socialize, get together with all of our friends."

Servers scooped up well over 100 dishes of ice cream on the night at the church.