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State College Couple Brings Sunset Slush To Happy Valley

Lee Ann and Turtle Patterson have been familiar with the small business industry for a long time. Whether it was Turtle’s family restaurant that he would bus tables for as a four-year-old or Lee Ann’s father’s unique watermarking company, the duo knows a thing or two about running a family business.

It wasn’t until the pandemic hit, however, that the couple found themselves looking for something new. Specifically, something that combined their entrepreneurial spirits with the Penn State community. What better way to do this than through Italian ice?

Courtesy of Sunset Slush Happy Valley

Sunset Slush Happy Valley opened its doors, or better-stated wheels, in May 2021 right in time for the summer season. Since then, Lee Ann and Turtle have shared their love of serving the community at events in and around Centre County.

“We have such great customers. We call them friends actually that will come out and support us. It is fun to sell a product that people love,” Turtle said. “We love to see people smile. We like meeting people and talking to people and being part of the community.”

Courtesy of Sunset Slush

Sunset Slush Happy Valley is a franchise of the parent company, Sunset Slush, which the Pattersons came to know quite well from their yearly family vacations to North Carolina.

The couple had vacationed on the beaches of North Carolina for many years before Lee Ann proposed that the pair find a way to bring Sunset Slush to Pennsylvania.

The two became close with the owners of the original Sunset Slush location and two days after sharing their new idea, they had a license to sell the franchise’s Italian ice in their pockets. Just two months later, Sunset Slush Happy Valley was up and running.

Courtesy of Sunset Slush Happy Valley

Prior to their Italian ice business, the Pattersons ran the beloved State College calzone stop, D.P. Dough. However, they are loving the mobility a cart offers as compared to the typical brick-and-mortar setup.

“State College is becoming more mobile friendly,” Lee Ann said. “Events like LionBash and housing transitions, the food truck fiesta, and those types of events that support the local community — [they’ve] been really fun to be a part of.”

The cart allows Sunset Slush Happy Valley to be wherever the party is. Whether it’s birthdays, weddings, Penn State events, or high school games, Lee Ann and Turtle can provide the treats.

“We really enjoy doing events at schools,” Turtle said. “We give back a certain percentage of sales [to support] a local cheerleading squad at the local high school’s Friday night football games.”

Sunset Slush Happy Valley also partners with local companies such as Big Spring Spirits Rum to make its classic Italian ice perfect for any occasion.

Despite all these events, Turtle works full-time as an inventory control and distribution manager and Lee Ann works full-time as a 12th-grade learning support teacher. Some days, the two even go straight from their full-time jobs to working behind the Italian ice cart. However, it doesn’t feel like work to them.

“Like Lee Ann said, it isn’t like work… It’s just fun. It’s hard to explain something that sells itself. It’s that good,” Turtle said.

Courtesy of Sunset Slush Happy Valley

Sunset Slush Happy Valley currently sells 35 different flavors ranging from cotton candy to pear, in three different sizes. The product, smooth and creamy, is often confused for sorbet, but there’s one large difference: dairy.

“We aren’t sugar-free, but we are all the other frees!” Turtle said with a laugh.

The Italian ice itself is gluten-free and dairy-free, so it’s a refreshing alternative to the classic vendors you would find at the typical fair or event.

Even though the temperature is dropping and the leaves are falling, Lee Ann and Turtle aren’t quite ready yet to put Sunset Slush Happy Valley on pause. The two plan on taking pre-orders for delivery of pints and quarts of Italian ice.

The Pattersons also plan to further expand Sunset Slush to the Titan Market in Bellefonte, where they hope to offer tastings and events.

Despite Sunset Slush Happy Valley’s growth, State College will always be home for the Pattersons.

“This is where our base of support will always be. [We] support this community first,” Turtle said.

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About the Author

Alexandra Pepe

Alex is a junior from New Canaan, CT, pursuing the Master's of Accounting program and minoring in journalism. She spends most of her free time with friends, watching "Curb Your Enthusiasm", or trying to figure out the buses. Her favorite things are getting breakfast sandwiches on a Sunday morning, listening to new music, and... writing for OS, of course! She can be reached through her email [email protected] or Instagram @alexxpepe.

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