Pajama clad Tami Snyder was set for a Saturday night treat. So were her daughters, Erika and Mikayla. But there was a pajama wearing mandate.
And dad Jason Snyder chickened out.
"He changed out of his PJs into his street clothes," Tami Snyder said while enjoying a waffle cone of ice cream. "He cares if people laugh at him. I don't."
"I'm always the odd ball," Jason Snyder quipped.
The Charlotte family was among more than 500 people who turned out Saturday night for free waffle cones stuffed with Bruster's Real Ice Cream. The rage was all about pajamas at the annual event.
"I get to go out in public in my pajamas," 10-year-old Riley Bowman said as she waited for her waffle cone and peeped looks at the latest pajama fashion statements.
"It's fun. People get to see what pajamas you have," Riley Bowman's friend Hannah Fleenor said. "When you eat ice cream in pajamas, you get to be comfortable."
Saturday's party turned fundraiser was sponsored by Bruster's owners Scot and Sherry Reed.
"I love seeing all the people excited and happy about getting something for free because times have been tough for the last six months," Sherry Reed said.
Anyone who was brave enough to show up in pajamas was treated to a free waffle cone with their choice of ice cream. So the community stepped up. They came out in housecoats. Most wore pajamas. Some wore gowns. Others donned Spiderman house shoes and the big fluffy pink ones met for inside only.
Content with ice cream, they dropped donations in waiting buckets. The donations benefited Tega Cay's Neighbors Helping Neighbors and Rock Hill's Children's Attention Home, an emergency shelter for neglected, abused or abandoned children from Chester, Lancaster, Richland and York counties.
Last year, the Reeds doled out more than 1,300 waffle cones to support Big Brothers Big Sisters and Neighbors Helping Neighbors and raised about $1,500. On Saturday, the Reeds raised $1,057 and gave away 580 cones, Scot Reed said.
Victoria Thomas of Neighbors Helping Neighbors was encouraged by the community's helping spirit.
"It's amazing, our community rallying for this cause," Thomas said. "We're living in hard times right now. Those who have right now are willing to help those who don't have, usually through no fault of their own. They lost their jobs. We're stepping in to help."
Tega Cay's Kelly Petracchi agreed.
"People are happy giving," she said. "It's fun to help. It's fun to give."
Sharon Sullivan is no stranger to the event. The Rochester, N.Y., woman didn't hesitate to slip on her PJs and head out the door with Petracchi.
"It was my first time last year," Sullivan said. "I like to do things like this. I'm young at heart."
At the back of the shop, Duke Kimzey sat at a table as daughter, Zealie, and her best friend, Savannah McGee, worked on finishing their ice cream. The Tega Cay man abandoned a barbecue he was hosting because he had to.
"They told me that we had to go to the pajama party," Kimzey said.
"Yeah, I really wanted to go," 4-year-old Zealie Kimzey said between spoonfuls of ice cream.
And a rival ice cream man couldn't compete, the girls said.
"We heard the ice cream man's truck coming, but we wanted to come here," 5-year-old Savannah said.
So Kimzey caved in.
"They kept telling me about it," Kimzey said about the girls' desire to attend the pajama/ice cream party. "They have been good all day. I was forced to come."
And the benefit fundraiser was an extra plus, he said.
"We're helping out our neighbors," he said. "That's always a good thing."