Last weekend, Margarite Jaramillo and her family traveled more than 3,000 miles in less than 48 hours, and they did it all for the ice cream.
Not just any ice cream, mind you, but the gargantuan "Fantastic Freeze" concoction offered exclusively at the Toledo Mud Hens' home of Fifth Third Field. The Fantastic Freeze Sundae -- 15 scoops of local favorite Toft's ice cream topped with whipped cream, hot fudge, sprinkles, peanuts and cherries, served in a full-size Mud Hens helmet -- won MiLB.com's inaugural #FOODFIGHT competition in June.
The calorically colossal (or would that be colossally caloric?) dessert creation emerged victorious from among a field of 64 contenders, winning the aptly named "Gut Busters" bracket before triumphing over the Nuke Dog (Durham Bulls), Roasted Corn (Lehigh Valley IronPigs) and Knucksie (Gwinnett Braves) in the Finals.
And this brings us to Margarite, who, as the randomly selected winner of MiLB.com's #foodfight sweepstakes, won an all-expenses-paid trip for four to Toledo so that she and her family could sample the Fantastic Freeze for themselves.
The Jaramillos live in Belen, N.M., (the town's name is Spanish for "Bethlehem") approximately 35 miles south of Albuquerque. As such, they have become fans of the Isotopes, the Triple-A affiliate of their favorite team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and it was through the Isotopes' Facebook page that Margarite first found out about #foodfight.
She voted for her favorite items and entered the sweepstakes via the MiLB.com entry form, but it never occurred to her that she might actually win the grand prize.
"At first I didn't believe it," said Margarite. "I had never been to Toledo, never even been to Ohio. The Isotopes' stadium is really nice, but [Fifth Third Field] was just as nice. It was really surprising how beautiful it was."
Margarite traveled to this highly regarded downtown facility with her husband, Ray, their 14-year-old son Henry, and her brother, also named Ray. Because her husband serves as the pastor at Belen's Calvary Chapel, it was tough to find the time to travel, but eventually they were able to settle on a whirlwind Thursday to Saturday itinerary. The Jaramillo's time at Fifth Third Field began on Friday at 5 p.m., when they were let into the ballpark early for batting practice (Henry, an avid fan and player, was able to snag a ball).
Equipped with a $100 gift card redeemable at the Mud Hens' "Swamp Shop" team store, the family then stocked up on souvenirs before proceeding to the in-house "Bird Cage" restaurant for dinner and, of course, dessert.
During dinner, the Jaramillos were interviewed as part of the Mud Hens' pre-game show, and it was during this portion of the evening that the Fantastic Freeze entered the picture.
"It was just huge," said Margarite. "After dinner, we went downstairs to our amazing seats behind home plate, and we took the Fantastic Freeze with us. There we were, carrying it down the stairs, and everyone around us was like, 'What the heck is that?' We tried our best, but we couldn't quite eat it all. We probably got about two-thirds of the way there."
As the Jaramillos struggled to finish the Fantastic Freeze, the Mud Hens struggled to overcome a three-run deficit and ended up falling to the visiting Norfolk Tides, 5-4. But this was the only disappointment of a trip that Margarite and her family will remember for a long time to come.
"A lot of people said to us, 'You came all the way here for a baseball game?' she said, laughing. "But we feel blessed, because everything was taken care of, and this was a great experience and a great thing to win. … I just don't think that we'll be having any ice cream for a little while."