A nearly 70-year-old paletero in Chicago was taken aback by a family’s kind act after they bought all of his paletas — or Mexican ice pops — so he could go home early and enjoy Father’s Day, the Chicago Tribune reports.
For more than a month, Rosario Del Real, who originally hails from Zacatecas, Mexico, has strolled through Chicago’s East Side neighborhood, selling the ice pops while wearing his signature snakeskin cowboy boots and a Western vaquero suit, according to the newspaper. On June 21, however, he received an unexpected surprise after he came across Oscar Gonzalez and Victor Dominguez, whose families were having a Father’s Day barbecue.
Del Real, who is commonly known in the neighborhood as Don Rosario, reportedly struck up a conversation with the two men, who immediately bonded with the vendor. It was during that conversation that Gonzalez and Dominguez decided they would buy all of the vendor’s ice pops.
“He reminded them of their fathers,” Gonzalez’ daughter Karen told the Tribune, adding that her father and uncle had lost their dads and that “talking to Don Rosario and learning of his background really touched them.”
The vendor’s stunned reaction was caught on camera by Karen’s boyfriend, Michaelangelo Mosqueda, who later shared the video on the social media platform TikTok. The short clip, which has since been liked by more than 1.5 million people, shows a clearly appreciative Del Real wiping his tears as Gonzalez and Dominguez take all of the paletas out of his cart.
“I love this,” one user wrote in response. “Viva la raza.”
“You guys are more than amazing!” another added. “The world needs more men like you!”
That’s not all the family did for the vendor. After the act went viral, the family set up a GoFundMe with an initial goal of raising $10,000 for Del Real so that he wouldn’t have to work in the heat and retire sooner than expected. By the end of the month, the family had well surpassed that target, raising $62,567.
When reached by the Tribune’s Laura Rodríguez Pesa, Del Real, who was unaware that the family had gone one step further to help him, was seemingly at a loss for words.
“I don’t deserve this,” he repeatedly said in Spanish.
According to the Tribune, Del Real started selling paletas in early June after an injury prevented him from doing carpentry work at home. He had reportedly asked Carlos Serrano, the owner of ice cream shop Las Tres Abejas, if he could take out a paleta cart. Though Serrano said he hesitated at first based, on concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, he eventually agreed because he understood that selling paletas was “the only option many older Latino men have to earn some money.”
Del Real, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1969 and whose daughter described him as someone who “refuses to stop working,” later learned of the fundraiser by Gonzalez and Dominguez. His reaction was recorded in another TikTok, where he can be found happily singing “El Muchacho Alegre,” a popular Mexican song.
“Don Rosario is not only a paletero, he reminds us of our fathers, our abuelos, who despite any hardships, age or health issues, they choose to keep working to earn money in a very honest way,” Karen told the Tribune. “He deserves this.”
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