Food & Drinks

The Rise and Fall of Ladybird Lake’s Floating Boozy Popsicle Stand

For a brief, glorious period last year, Austinites could grab frozen treats while on Lady Bird Lake, thanks to Pallet Pops, a traveling, floating popsicle stand. However, the business temporarily closed in July 2020 to wait for a permit from Austin Parks and Recreation. Pallet Pops was unable to obtain the permit and officially closed in September 2021.

When it opened in June of 2020, Pallet Pops served several rotating popsicle flavors including mango tajin, watermelon-agave, cookies and cream, and coconut-lime. There were also boozy flavors like coconut-rosé, watermelon margarita, guava cosmopolitan, and pina colada. (Per owner Alex Wind, the pops are considered a food by Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, aka TABC.) He also had plans for a collaboration with an unnamed local alcohol producer.

Wind started Pallet Pops after losing his job as an events producer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Faced with ample free time, he “built a raft out of random stuff I found on Craigslist Free,” he tells Eater, “like any normal person would do.” It was his first time building a raft and, according to him, “the first runs didn’t go great,” but he eventually made a sturdier version.

Wind originally started the popsicle stand to “bring back some funky Austin spirit during such a weird time,” but the business proved quite popular, and sold out almost every weekend for six weeks. Wind had planned on operating until at least November 2020.

Though Wind says he cleared Pallet Pops with the Small Business Administration, Department of Transportation’s Right Of Way division, the TABC, and Austin Public Health last year, he did not expect that he also had to comply with Austin Parks and Recreation. Ladybird Lake is technically classified as a park.

Because of that, he had to close the business in late July 2020 to apply for a permit in order to operate on the lake but never received approval. In order to reopen, Wind says he needs to secure that permit, possibly with a nudge from Austin City Council or Mayor Steve Adler, which he noted would take considerable time and resources.

Wind explored more permanent land-based venues under a different brand, but ultimately changed careers.

The usual route for Pallet Pops, which was open from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, travels between the Rowing Dock, Lou Neff point, and down Barton Creek.

Update, September 24, 2021, 4:04 p.m.: This article, originally published on August 13, 2020, has been updated to reflect that Pallet Pops is permanently closed.



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