Grumpy City Wants to Ban Ice Cream Truck Music & Destroy Childhood Memories

When you think of noises that remind you of summer, what comes to mind? For me it's that high insect drone you only hear on hot days, the splash and giggle of kids playing in a sprinkler, the gentle burble of river water tumbling by ... and the slightly obnoxious earwormy sound of "The Entertainer," played via a crackling loudspeaker as an ice cream truck slowly winds its way through the neighborhood.

To me, the sound of an ice cream truck is a symbol of childhood, of summer freedom and unabashed joy. It's every bit as iconic as a Christmas carol or the Vince Guaraldi piano music that accompanies televised Charlie Brown specials. Which is why I'm dismayed to hear that the city of Long Beach is considering banning ice cream truck jingles -- because they're considered a "noise nuisance."


Now, admittedly the tinkling music of an ice cream truck isn't something I'd call intrinsically pleasant when removed from the context of summer. I mean, it's not like I'd purchase the "Now That's What I Call Ice Cream Trucks!!" album and listen to it all day long. But it's a noise that instantly summons warm memories of being a kid and feeling the full-body excitement of hearing the truck approach. Decades older and with kids of my own, I still feel the same sort of happy anticipation when I hear that tell-tale jingle. (Although it's tempered somewhat by being the adult in charge of managing to produce enough cash for those increasingly expensive Rocket Pops. Why don't ice cream trucks take debit cards?)

The citizens of Long Beach, however, seem to have a far less pleasant set of associations with these trucks. At a council meeting this week, City Councilman Dee Andrews proposed that the city regulate the trucks' operations to cut down on "the nuisance that ice cream trucks create." Andrews says he's been overwhelmed with resident complaints for a long time, and he's requesting that the trucks be forbidden from playing their music when they're stopped and dispensing ice cream.

In areas of the mid-city, the Ice Cream Truck nuisance is the increasing and continuous play of amplified music. It can be heard throughout the day and into the evening hours for several blocks. Residents’ peace and quiet is disrupted by a constant procession of trucks playing various songs at high volume levels.  In several cases, an additional ice cream truck will follow the first one and the cycle repeats all through the day.

One resident added his statement to the anti-truck movement:

Each year, the Ice Cream Truck noise gets louder and the trucks increase in numbers. It has definitely affected my quality of life for years and I am thankful that something is being proposed to address the problem.

I guess I can't identify with this problem because we live in a really quiet neighborhood without a lot of kids, and an ice cream vehicle trundles through maybe once every couple weeks or so, tops. If I had to hear them every day, all day, I suppose I'd be far less nostalgic about the magic of the truck.

Still, it seems phenomenally grumpy to actually pass a city regulation cutting back on the jingles. Do kids in Long Beach hate it as much as the adults do, I wonder? Would it be less annoying if they played soothing jazz instead? Do we really want to live in a world where trucks aren't allowed to attract children from several blocks away so they can purchase an overpriced frost-covered Strawberry Shortcake Good Humor bar and instantly drop half of it down their shirt? Come on, Long Beach. Have a heart.

What do you think of this proposed regulation against ice cream truck noise?

Image via Leslie Duss/Flickr

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