It's fair to say that the first day of summer in Lower Moyamensing was Aug. 5.

That's when Nanci Italiano slid the window open of her family's Italiano's Water Ice stand at 12th and Shunk Streets for the first time since September 2016.

Sunday's opening drew crowds, summoned by Facebook.

Nanci Italiano greets a customer at Italiano’s Water Ice, 12th and Shunk Streets.
MICHAEL KLEIN / Staff
Nanci Italiano greets a customer at Italiano’s Water Ice, 12th and Shunk Streets.

As Pat's King of Steaks is considered the originator of the cheesesteak, Italiano's lays claim to the creation of the gelati, the mixture of water ice and ice cream now sold by every Tom, Dick, and Rita's water ice stand in the region.

It was her grandfather, Filippo's second wife, Savina, who enjoyed mixing Italiano's water ice and ice cream from a nearby shop.

"She decided to call it gelati," Italiano said, changing the Italian word gelato. "The 'i' is for Italiano. We should have called it Savina instead, or trademarked gelati."

Italiano seems to have a love-hate relationship with the stand that her family opened in the mid-'70s; her family earlier ran the nearby Pop's. (Filippo was Pop.)

She professes to be retired, content with operating an electrolysis salon out of the storefront next door. She has had enough of the long hours that come with making and selling water ice. "People think all you do is open the window," she told me.

Even her father, Domenick, who is 87, told her to let the stand go, she said.

But the prospect of delighting her neighbors was too strong. A steady stream rolled up Wednesday, some from as far as Bucks County.

A cup of chocolate water ice at Italiano’s Water Ice, 12th and Shunk Streets.
MICHAEL KLEIN / Staff
A cup of chocolate water ice at Italiano’s Water Ice, 12th and Shunk Streets.

Hours are 12:30 to 4-ish, when she goes upstairs to join her dad for dinner. Then she's back from 6:30 p.m. till 10 or 10:30.

The shop has been keeping an odd schedule since her brother Frankie died suddenly in early 2013. That summer, Italiano's never opened. Nanci and Domenick reopened in 2014, 2015, and 2016, keeping an odd schedule.

Last summer, she chose to remain closed.

Italiano says she will remain open through September.