It seems that New Yorkers’ hate the sound of the ice cream truck jingle. That summer theme song for kids to ask for a spare dollar from their parents or grand parents has become a bone of contention for many in the city. According to the Department of Environmental Protection of New York City, in the past four years there have been 7,031 complaints about ice cream trucks and their loud repetitive music.
Back in 2005, former Mayor Bloomberg tried to get rid of ice cream truck jingles completely, but ended up compromising because those in favor of keeping the jingle said many children would be traumatized if the music was stopped altogether. The compromise from the Bloomberg administration allowed for ice cream trucks to continue playing their jingles while they were on the move for customers, but once the truck stops, is standing or is parked, then they must halt their music until they begin moving again. This is to keep drivers from parking in one spot outside of a person’s home and playing the sprightly ditty all day long. In the same meeting a number of other everyday common noise complaints for New Yorkers were discussed such as noisy air-conditioners, barking dogs, early morning garbage trucks and blaring music.
In 2007, after 18 months for the city of New York to prepare, police began to really crackdown on the noise complaints for the hated ice cream truck jingles. The Department of Environmental Protection had 45 agents out, in addition to the thousands of regular police officers, to patrol any number of noise complaints. The ice cream trucks are something that many New Yorkers get very upset over because the noise can be constant from sun up to sun down during the summer months. A group of people living in Brooklyn’s 94th precinct have even started a Yahoo! group with 29 members called “Stop the ice cream truck madness,” with information on how to report violators, and telephone numbers to 311 and the local police precinct. The page even alleges that some of the ice cream truck vendors lack a license to sell products in the city.
The 7,031 complaints that were filed in the previous four years in the five boroughs of the city average out to about five per day. Obviously the trucks are not running in the colder months, so they are more in the range of 15 per day during the periods that the trucks are most active. There is even a location in the Bronx where there has been 132 official noise complaints filed specifically for ice cream truck music. That resident, a Miss Fergus, says her grandchildren can be in bed sometimes at 9:30 or 10pm and the music will keep them awake, with the kids then asking her if they can have a cold sugary snack before they fall asleep.
Obviously many New Yorkers filed a complaint to 311. There is even specific link on the New York City government website that allows a person to file a complaint on a vehicle that is playing their jingle too loud, late at night, or when they are stopped, standing or parked. Typical fines for a violation are around $350, but can range from $50 up to $7,000 dollars depending on the severity and if someone is a repeat offender. Many hope that the hated sounds of the ice cream truck jingles are stopped or the children of New Yorkers could face a Pavlovian response to the repeated exposure to the sprightly music.
By B. Taylor Rash