The Group: Lillian C. Schmitt Elementary School PTO, Columbus, Ind.

The Setting: The annual back-to-school ice cream social, where attendees usher in the new school year with the school’s staff, principal, and other families while enjoying a delicious treat.

What Went Wrong: Several hours before the event, then-PTO President Lloyd Miller; Kellye King, ice cream social coordinator; and Julia Federle, PTO secretary, took to pre-scooping some 800 bowls of ice cream. A cafeteria manager, apparently suffering from temporary brain freeze, assured the volunteers that a spare refrigerator in the cafeteria would keep their trays of ice cream amply chilled for the evening. Leaders left their scooping jobs feeling quite certain that all would be cool, and organized, when doors opened at 6 p.m.

What Happened Next: “When we arrived to get ready for the night, we discovered a melted mess,” says Federle. “What a nightmare!”

The Outcome: Eight hundred bowls of cream, but no ice. It was a milky meltdown with hundreds of kids and parents screaming for ice cream in a line that spiraled around the entire school.

Notable Quote: “The principal had to hold back the crowd as our PTO president made a run for the grocery store,” says Federle. When he returned, “We had to scoop like crazy.”

The Last Word: Despite the crisis, PTO leaders kept their cool. Although the ice cream was delayed by an hour, families had extra time to be “social” at the school’s playground.

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