Virginia Tech rising senior and Manassas Park resident Chris Jewell drives the only yellow school bus that kids run excitedly to in the middle of the summer: The Snowie Bus, a yellow truck that sports cartoons, music, 13 different flavors of “snowies” and a soundtrack.
On Friday, Jewell parked the bus in front of Manassas Christian School in Manassas Park, a school he once attended. Within a few minutes, dozens of elementary schoolers at the school’s summer camp lined up for a cup of cold flavored ice.
“We’re definitely happy to have him back,” said principal Linda Bare of Manassas Christian School. “It’s a good, hot day for a snow cone.”
Sticking out of the side of the truck is the flavor station. Jewell hands out snowies to kids and lets them mix the flavors in whichever way they want.
Seven-year-old Trey mixed cotton candy with pina colada and a unique flavor called “tiger’s blood.” He said he loved pina colada, and guessed that “tiger’s blood” tasted just like strawberry. Jewell called tiger’s blood a mixture of coconut and strawberry.
Eleven-year-old Ryan put all 13 flavors available into his snowie. He said there was no distinctive taste, “but every single flavor.”
Jewell said the most popular flavors included blue raspberry and cotton candy. The bus has roughly 50 different flavors on rotation, including cheesecake, which will be available next week.
Jewell started the company last July with his father Dwayne after he wasn’t able to find an internship. That year, Jewell worked seven days a week in the truck, looking for ways to get business.
“I would park in a corner with a lot of traffic with the lights blinking,” Jewell said.
Since July, Jewell and his brother Cody have driven the truck to various events around the region, including last summer's Redskins training camp in Ashburn.
"[Cody] got to meet all the cheerleaders and got a few autographs from some of the players," Jewell said.
While he sells plenty of snowies, Jewell said the goal was to do fundraising and discounted events.
“We give discounts to schools and donations back,” Jewell said. “We’ve donated hundreds and thousands to local schools and sport leagues.”
This summer, Jewell has been able to relax and take Sunday and Monday off, but that doesn’t stop him from working long hours. Jewell said he expected to work 12 hours on Friday, visiting Flint Hill School in Oakton and another event in Aldie.
“There’s slow days and fast days,” Jewell said. “But that’s how the sales industry is.”
While Jewell says he has no shortage of events to cater, he’s still trying to get more exposure for the bus.
“(Thursday), I was in the van and past Chantilly and some guy stopped us and asked for a business card,” Jewell said. “It’s all about people seeing the bus and sparking that interest.”