Rita’s Italian Ice Offering Free Italian Ice for First Day of Spring 2013, Best Flavors Of All Time [PHOTOS]

Celebrate the first day of spring 2013 -- though it may not feel like it in some snow-covered places -- at Rita's, which will be giving away free Italian ice on Wednesday in honor of the Vernal Equinox.

The Trevose, Pa., company, which has 550 stores nationwide, has been celebrating the free ice giveaway annually since 1992; its motto, "Ice, Custard, Happiness." It offers over 50 flavors, including Cherry, Alex's Lemonade, Mango, Swedish Fish, Kiwi-Strawberry and Island Fusion.

All Rita’s locations nationwide will be participating in the free giveaway from noon until 9 p.m., it said in a press release.  To find the Rita's nearest you, visit www.ritasice.com.

The company said last year that it dished out over 1.2 million cups of Italian ice in 10 hours. This year, the company said it expects to hand out treats to 1.5 million customers.

Rita's is also hosting a Twitter and Instagram contest, where consumers can submit photos of themselves eating one of its tasty Italian ice treats. To enter the contest, simply snap a photo titled your “First Taste of Spring” at Rita’s, and submit the photos on Twitter or Instagram. Participants will have from noon on March 20 until midnight on March 22 to submit their photos. They must also follow Rita’s on Twitter (@RitasItalianIce) or Instagram (@ritasice) and use the hashtag #RitasFirstDayofSpring when submitting their photos.

The photos will be judged based on creativity and originality, the company said. One winner will receive free regular ice for a year, or one of five gift certificates. Rita's said contest winners will be notified on March 27 and announced on March 29.

Check out these photos of some of Rita's top flavors of Italian Ice.[[nid:110669]]

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