'Leprechaun' helps St. Paul keep its cool

  • Article by: PETER WRIGHT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 2, 2010 - 8:54 PM

By day, he's the head concierge at the St. Paul Hotel. But when the day ends, he becomes Leprechaun, ice cream man.

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Stephen Gallivan started an ice cream business as a way to raise funds after his wife was stricken with a brain tumor. Gallivan, who is also the head concierge at the St. Paul Hotel, rides a pink tricycle with a large cooler to hold frozen treats.

Photo: Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

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When his work day is over as head concierge at the St. Paul Hotel, Stephen Gallivan puts on a light suit with white shoes, gets on a pink tricycle and pedals through town, offering icy treats he says can bring the community together.

In addition to advising guests at the historic hotel, Gallivan is an ice cream man, and his appearance has been catching residents' attention all over the city.

"I stay out as long as my energy will hold up," he said.

Gallivan started Leprechaun's Dreamcycle this spring. He said "Leprechaun" has been his nickname since he was 5, and with a shock of red hair above his suit and bow tie, his appearance lives up to that.

Gallivan said he'd always liked the idea of being an ice cream man, but it took an illness to make it happen.

Two years ago, Gallivan's wife was diagnosed with a brain tumor. While she was recovering, Gallivan said he began looking for an extra source of income. After a lot of searching he found a tricycle with a cooler on eBay and bought it without telling his wife.

"Initially, she was not a big supporter," Gallivan said. "She just thought it was some crazy idea."

But with summer in full swing, he said, business has taken off.

Anthony Andler, owner of Heimi's Haberdashery, said Gallivan has been a customer for a long time, so when he heard about the new business, he thought Gallivan should look the part.

"I said we should put you up in a real traditional ice cream man [outfit], the seersucker," Andler said.

Heimi's was also the first business to advertise on the trike. Gallivan said many people in the community have helped. Cooper's Market sells him the treats at a discount and allows him to store them in a corner of its freezer, and the St. Paul Saints let him sell outside games.

"It became equally [important] to be part of the community and to reach out to the community," he said.

Gallivan recalled a group of kids who once asked him if the ice cream was free. It wasn't, but Chris Coleman, who happened to also be there, bought some for them. They accepted it, not evening knowing it was from the mayor. Another time he recalled giving a treat to some homeless people on a hot day. Later while he was riding down Seventh Street, one of them ran up to him just to give him a hug.

"It's an equalizer," Gallivan said. "Everybody is on the same ground. Whether it's the mayor of St. Paul or a newly homeless person, everybody wants ice cream."

Peter Wright • 612-673-4194

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