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Gus & Yiayia's ice ball cart serves tiny treats at science center's miniature train display

A beloved North Side vendor is the newest addition to the Carnegie Science Center’s Miniature Railroad and Village. Guests can now see a tiny model of Gus and Yiayia’s ice ball cart at the North Side facility.

In 1934, Gus Kalaris’s father began selling popcorn, peanuts, and flavored ice balls to neighbors. The stand has since become an iconic part of Allegheny Commons Park. Gus took over in 1951, and according to the science center, has built two versions of the cart — one as a high school woodshop project and the current cart in 1983. He said he’s glad to be memorialized in the display.

“It's like getting the Academy Award or the Lombardi Trophy, you know, that's the top,” Kalaris said. “Who honors an ice ball person vending on the street today, you know?”

Science Center curator of historic exhibits Patty Everly says that the addition of the ice ball cart was inspired by a dedicated fan of the business.

“This one really was inspired by a single person who's advocated for Gus and Yiayia’s for years, kept emailing me and occasionally phone calling-- this year just seemed right,” Everly said.

Other updates to the miniature village include a dance hall, two-headed cow at “The Show of Living Wonders,’ and a circus parade with elephants, giraffes and zebras. It’ll reopen to the public on Thursday, Nov. 18.

Rebecca Reese is a production assistant for The Confluence.
Katie Blackley is a digital editor/producer for 90.5 WESA, where she writes, edits and generates both web and on-air content for features and daily broadcast. She's the producer and host of our Good Question! series and podcast. She also covers history and the LGBTQ community.