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Originally published November 22, 2006 at 12:00 AM | Page modified November 22, 2006 at 6:02 PM

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Idaho Zamboni drivers fired after trip to fast-food drive-thru

Two employees have been fired from the city's ice skating rink after making a midnight fast-food run - in a pair of Zambonis

The Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho • Two employees have been fired from the city's ice skating rink after making a midnight fast-food run • in a pair of Zambonis.

The ice-groomer jockeys, both temporary city employees whose names and ages weren't released by Boise Parks and Recreation, had to negotiate at least one intersection with a traffic light on their late-night creep from Idaho Ice World.

An anonymous caller who alerted a telephone hot line set up by Boise Mayor Dave Bieter was gassing up his car at a nearby service station at about 12:30 a.m. on Nov. 10 when he saw the Zambonis roll through a Burger King drive-through, order food, and then return to the skating rink. The rubber-tired vehicles, whose top speed is about 5 mph, drove about 11/2 miles in all, said Parks Department Director Jim Hall.

"They were fired immediately," Hall said. "We're pretty sure it was just the one time. When we interviewed them, they didn't seem to be too concerned about it. I don't think they understood the seriousness of it. Even if they had felt bad about it, they're not going to be employed here."

The incident was reported on a Web log, www.boiseguardian.com, whose author, David Frazier, has fought City Hall over such issues as whether the city must ask voters before going into debt to build an airport parking garage.

A manager at the Burger King contacted today confirmed the incident happened, but declined to comment further.

Although neither of the $75,000 Zambonis nor their $10,000 blades appeared damaged, Hall said Boise may still try to press charges against the former employees for allegedly operating an unlicensed motor vehicle on a public street.

The Zamboni was invented in the late 1940s by Frank Zamboni, whose company in Pasadena, Calif., still makes them.

Even though several companies now produce ice resurfacers, the Zamboni name has become a universal identifier for squat vehicles that turn ice into a smooth sheet using a long blade and warm water.

Last year, Morristown, N.J., Zamboni operator John Peragallo was charged with drunken driving after another employee at the Mennen Sports Arena called police to report the machine was speeding and nearly crashed into the boards. Peragallo, 63, lost his Zamboni privileges.

Strange things can happen on a Zamboni, Hall allowed.

"But normally, those strange things are in the confines of an ice skating rink, not cruising up and down the street," he said. "Every once in a while, you're going to get somebody who doesn't use their brains and does something incredibly stupid like this. They could have been hit by a car."

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