We seem to have ground to a halt in the stinking swampland of summer's sweltering armpit, so it must be time for tabloid stories of ice cream man drama! This latest chapter comes from Jackson Heights, where parents say "aggressive vendors are encroaching on play places and blasting jingles deep into the night," according to the Daily News. In July, an ice cream truck driver also took it upon himself to move a barrier and audaciously park in the middle of the 87th Street Play Street near Travers Park. A nearby play group supervisor finally called the cops after the sweets slinger had occupied the spot for over three hours. “I was so frustrated,” he said. “It’s annoying to smell all that gas. ... That’s a health hazard.”
The Parks Department requires a permit for vendors to near playgrounds, and that truck did not have a permit. But it's tough out there for a Kool Man. One ice cream truck driver of 23 years, Marco Neira, said that on average, he has earned less than half of his typical daily pay of $800 this year. Unlike in the equal-footing turf wars of the past, which have occasionally played out like soap operas, Neira blames the cutthroat behavior on illegal push cart vendors squeezing onto the play street. He also blamed overzealous Health Department inspectors for his losses, which is a common refrain these days.