To most Chicago residents, Elgin is a northwest suburb. But to ice cream trucks, it’s a no man’s land. Or no ice-cream-truck land.
That’s because back in 1973, just as summer was getting underway, the Elgin City Council voted to ban peddling from vehicles. And with that vote, ice cream trucks would disappear from Elgin for the next 45 years.
But that could change. The council is expected to meet Wednesday night for a final vote on repealing the ban, and ice cream truck drivers will no doubt be toasting with creamsicles.
Ice cream truck operator Jim Cremeens, who’s pushed to overturn the ban, joins Morning Shift host Tony Sarabia to talk about the origins of the ban and why it’s finally being overturned.
Rumors about how the ban started
Jim Cremeens: It’s not on the books but it sounds like in 1973, either a child got struck by an ice cream truck or a child got struck by a car running to an ice cream truck, which is probably the case because we stress safety. It had just went unchallenged for about 45 years.
I got an unbelievable response when I started selling ice cream in Elgin. Some people were saying they hadn’t seen an ice cream truck in five, 10, 15, even 20 years. And one guy said, “I thought you were banned.”
Someone called the police on Cremeens
Cremeens: I found out Memorial Day weekend a year ago. I was working in the northeast side of town when I hear a squad car [pull up]. The officer told me that they don’t even stop ice cream trucks unless someone calls in a complaint. So I said, “You mean somebody actually called the police on the ice cream man? That’s un-American.”
Tips of the trade
Cremeens: I have three different songs, and we’re required to turn the music off when we make a stop. “Pop Goes the Weasel” — that’s the least favorite — but I have three mainly to keep my sanity, OK?
Ice cream trucks won’t disturb Elgin’s school kids
Cremeens: It’s in the ordinance that we don’t sell within 500 feet of a school within school hours or an hour before and after. That’s fine, and you know, elementary school kids don’t have any money anyway.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire interview.