Reasonable facsimile of the ice cream truck’s return
Photo: Ariel Skelley (The Image Bank/Getty Images)

Nobody is quite sure how it happened that the city council of Elgin, Illinois, voted to ban “peddling from vehicles” 45 years ago, thereby eliminating for generations the thrill of hearing a tinny “Pop Goes The Weasel” announcing the ice cream was en route.

Now that’s all changing, as the council voted last night in favor of overturning the ban. The Daily Herald reports that councilman Toby Shaw stated at the meeting, “I just don’t know how someone could vote against this nationwide phenomenon. So I have to vote ‘yes.’” The motion passed unanimously, “amending city code to allow ice cream trucks and ice cream carts from April through October.”

Elgin residents have ice cream truck operator Jim Cremeens to thank for their renewed ice cream fortune. He first approached city officials to overturn the ban. He told Chicago’s WBEZ Morning Shift host Tony Sarabia yesterday that the ban’s origin is unclear: “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.”

Unaware of the ban until about a year ago, Cremeens started selling ice cream in Elgin and “got an unbelievable response… 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.’” Then on Memorial Day weekend, a squad car pulled up behind him. “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.’” Hear, hear.

So congratulations, Elgin, and enjoy what’s bound to be the best summer in years. Maybe say an extra thanks to your ice cream man while you do so. Cremeens also offered a hint that ice cream men may not enjoy their signature song as much of the rest of us do: “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?” Totally understandable.

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