The faces and voices of the kids mobbing the Frosty Freeze
truck were the stuff of Norman Rockwell, a reminder of sticky days
and sweet evenings past.
The flavors may have modern names, but the ice cream has
"Oooh! A Bubble Gum!"
"I got the Tweety Bird!"
"Hi. Can I get two Bomb Pop Juniors?"
As driver Don Gibbs worked his way down the street, his siren
song a tinkly "Home on the Range," the parents came out, too,
dollar bills clutched in their hands. In the presence of the ice
cream man, they somehow appeared as ageless as the children.
For all its resonance, the scene is rare. This spring marks the
first time in 23 years that ice cream trucks have been allowed on
Denver's streets. They were banned in 1971 after a car struck a
child trying to buy a treat, killing her.
In cities and suburbs across America, the neighborhood ice
cream vendor has been banned or silenced after accidents involving
children hit by cars.
No one keeps precise track of how many children are killed this
way, but in a six-year period in south Florida, starting in 1985,
children were in 18 accidents related to ice cream trucks, six of
Often the accidents result in a public and political outcry. In
1978, the U.S. Department of Transportation commissioned a study in
Detroit to examine the problem. The report concluded that flashing
lights and a swing-down arm warning that children were around would
Many cities have taken sterner measures:
In Chicago's 19th Ward, ice cream trucks were banned after the
death of an 8-year-old girl in 1989 produced a chorus of other
complaints. Several other wards followed suit.
The trucks are outlawed in a dozen Chicago suburbs, as well.
Safety also has been debated in the Miami area, where bans on
trucks have been imposed by several towns, including Coral Springs,
which acted in 1985 after a child was killed and three were injured
in a four-month period.
In 1986, officials in Carson, Calif., outlawed the trucks,
calling them "a clear and present danger to children."
Long Beach, N.Y., has banned motorized ice cream trucks since
1976. More recently, the city even forbade bicycle peddlers during
Santa Ana, Calif., prohibits vendors from playing any music.
Boulder, Colo., in 1989 reduced the allowable decibels from 80 to
But Alan Drazen, past president of the International
Association of Ice Cream Vendors, says, "My impression is that it's
a situation of a few isolated incidents. Occasionally there will be
a town that will pass a restrictive regulation. …