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posted: 9/21/2017 6:42 PM

Editorial: It's time suburbs end their bans on ice cream trucks

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  • Jim Cremeens, 69, of Elgin, started driving an ice cream truck in May. He is hoping Elgin drops its ban on ice cream trucks so he can sell close to home.

      Jim Cremeens, 69, of Elgin, started driving an ice cream truck in May. He is hoping Elgin drops its ban on ice cream trucks so he can sell close to home.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

The Daily Herald Editorial Board

Ask a middle-school kid what worries him or her, and you'll probably get the same kind of answer you'd have given: remembering the locker combination, making enough friends, keeping up with homework, doing well in math.

But you know kids today face -- or will face -- different kinds of stressors than you probably did: cyberbullying, the prevalence of opioid abuse, play dates, organized activities and a focus on success in youth sports once reserved for academics.

Kids these days spend so much time indoors connected to their devices that you don't see as many roaming the neighborhood anymore, having fun and getting their fill of vitamin D.

It's time to change that. With ice cream.

Our Elena Ferrarin wrote last week about how the city of Elgin is rethinking its 44-year ban on ice cream trucks. Mundelein ended its 53-year ban a little more than a year ago, and Carpentersville rescinded its 1970s ban in 2012.

Ice cream trucks are a staple in the suburbs and had been in the communities that banned them.

Remember hearing the faint siren song of the ice cream man and jumping on your one-speed bike to track down the source of the jingle jangle of its bells? The sight of an ice cream truck could put a smile on just about any kid's face.

The fact is, many of the leaders of towns that long ago banned ice cream trucks aren't even sure why they were banned in the first place.

It is believed Elgin passed its 1973 law in a split vote as a result of a child being killed by an ice cream truck, though the law doesn't mention it and officials haven't been able to track down whether that's the case.

Elgin officials recently were approached by an ice cream man who was selling his wares in town, unaware of the ban. "I dispense joy and happiness everywhere I go," said Jim Cremeens, who has asked the ban be lifted.

Elgin Mayor David Kaptain is up for the change and says he has support. "I think there are benefits to the community," he said.

Elgin might use this as a pilot program to determine whether to also allow food trucks, just as it has with residents who want to raise chickens.

The Stranger Danger aspect of ice cream trucks can be addressed with licensing and background checks, but the safety argument is thin. Kids have learned how to be safe around school buses, so they should be trusted around ice cream trucks, too.

"We tell the children to look both ways if they cross the street ... We tell them to cross behind the truck so they can see who's coming," Cremeens said. "I got mirrors everywhere, six or seven mirrors. We're constantly pushing safety. It's all about the kids."

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