Which Neighborhoods Aren’t Chill About Ice Cream Trucks?

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mister softee ice cream truck
Photo by Mary Bakija/City Kid Corner

Summer is supposedly winding down, but the 90-degree and higher heat doesn’t make it feel that way. You know what else gets New Yorkers hot under the collar? The incessant jingle from the ice-cream truck, apparently…

While the tune may still elicit a Pavlovian response from some ice-cream lovers, or at least conjure up memories of halcyon summers before jobs, bills and worries about ones waistline, the sound of Mister Softee on the block makes some residents reach for their phone instead of their wallets: calling 311 to file a noise complaint.

A new report for Localize.city found that New Yorkers dropped a dime on the ice cream man almost 1,279 times in the last twelve months, based on analyzing 311 complaints.

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In Brooklyn, reports fell by almost 20% over the last year, which may mean residents have chilled out or given up—or maybe the ice cream truck drivers have been moving a little more silently in these streets.

Whatever the case may be, there are still a few hotspots for complaints in Brooklyn, with three clusters breaking the Top 12 citywide:

  • Sunset Park: especially around Rainbow Playground, Brizzi Playground & Sunset Park
  • Bed-Stuy: near John Hancock Playground, Herbert Von King Park, Hattie Carthan Community Garden, Banneker Playground & Tranquility Farm
  • Boerum Hill/Fort Greene: around Nicholas Naquan Heyward Jr. Park, Boerum Park, North Pacific Playground, & Fort Greene Park
Courtesy of Maria Campanella

Naturally, the trucks spend most of their time in areas where their kiddie clientele plays, so parks and playgrounds are much more likely to have trucks lingering with their jingles on repeat.

“It’s apparent that ice cream trucks know their audience and are targeting parks and playgrounds—but families might not be totally cool about that,” said Localize.city data analyst Daniel Slutsky.

“Because these trucks are mobile, the local hot spots might vary year-to-year, but it’s clear that there remain corridors where residents are persistently annoyed by the song and trying to do something about it,” he added.

According to a Times article last year, city rules don’t allow vendors to idle in one spot for more than three minutes, and food vendors can’t play their music while their trucks are stopped.

The article recommended calling the local police precinct to lodge complaints if there’s a continued nuisance truck, along with 311. Eventually, somebody might be moved by your persistence and do something about it…

In the meantime, heading down to grab a cone and striking up a conversation with the truck’s operator might be the best way to keep things chill before involving the city.

Of course, if you’re intractably opposed to the noise-making mobile sweets purveyors of the city, you can always stop by a quieter brick-and-mortar store to support local business and get your ice cream fix: here are 16 great spots in Northern Brooklyn to get you started!

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