Silly Me, I Thought Playgrounds Are For Playing

In the middle of the park, blowing bubbles to attract the kids

In the middle of the park, blowing bubbles to attract the kids

A couple of weeks back, Brooklyn parents in Park Slope were slammed for asking for a ban on ice cream truck vendors around playgrounds. At first I thought what a crazy request, but as spring heats up and so does the competition for my ice cream money, I wonder if it is. Some of the comments that this story generated and recent events got me thinking, were they so wrong to want the ban? Aren’t playgrounds the last real place where kids can just be kids and frolic happily? They are bombarded with marketing messages on TV, when they pick out clothes (Mama, I want the Spiderman top!) and in so many other areas of their lives.

Some people’s outright hatred and anger at the idea that the beloved ice cream truck would be banned, came from the notion that ultimately it was up to the parents to just say “no” if they didn’t want to buy ice cream. If the child had a tantrum, it wasn’t the ice cream vendor’s fault. It was the parent’s fault for not disciplining properly. What? Uuugh. We touched on this topic just this week in the Mommy Mindset about whether or not people without kids sometimes just don’t understand that a meltdown from a child sometimes cannot be avoided. If the ice cream vendor comes to the playground everyday, and everyday Johnny’s friend gets an ice cream from his mom, Johnny is gonna one day meltdown. I feel for Johnny, ice cream is tough to turn a blind eye to every day.

I for one don’t think parents should be put in that situation where ice cream (as well as candy floss, chips and sometimes stuffed animals) is forced on us. We come to the playground to play – simple. If I want to take my son for ice cream, I’ll seek out an ice cream shop or vendor. Italian ices and soft serve is big business in this city. One ice cream truck stops outside our house every night while we are eating dinner, again when I am putting Miss 6 months down to sleep and sometimes again around 10. I can drown out the call of the ice cream man, because he’s making a living. Husband calls it noise pollution. What say you?

A few weeks back I made the decision to stop going to the park that is less than 5 minutes from us because of the picture you see above. There are 2 school buildings near this park, one right next door and the other about 2 minutes away. On any given day after 3PM at least 2-3 vendors are in the area. It gets to be a nuisance when they roll their cart into the park, park right in the middle, blow bubbles to attract the kids, and ring a bell. All this for at least 3 minutes.

I won’t even get into the fact that it is a park rule that NO one is to solicite on park grounds.

I took these sneaky photos, not really sure what to do with them. I really wanted to say something to him. Remind him that he should be out on the sidewalk like his competitor here below. But I didn’t say anything. He’s just barely outside the park, but I respect him more for at least being outside and not blowing bubbles and not calling out to the kids. For every parent who loathes the ice cream vendors and thinks they should be banned, there is a parent who welcomes them in the park and gladly gets their child an ice cream every day.

Just barely outside the park

Just barely outside the park

I can’t say I am firmly in either of those camps, but after witnessing this blatant selling to the children, I decided that park is no longer for me especially around 3. It’s ridiculous when you bring your child to the park for healthy movement and fresh air and are instead bombarded by the sale of unhealthy/sometimes snacks.

This is a little of topic and a little random, but I had to share. On the same day I took these pictures, this came rolling through. I mean literally came rolling through. It was a bit weird. So many kids rushed this electric car. Dad made way for it to come through like he was their bodyguard. And then as if they didn’t know it was going to cause a commotion with the other kids, the kids inside the car pushed away the kids that touched the car. Dad didn’t say anything! What? Why even bring that to a playground….Silly me, I though playgrounds were for climbing and running, jumping and swinging. Not selling, inciting near riots with electric cars, and running down adults (yes, they nearly drove over my feet as well as the feet of other parents).

What shenanigans if any go on in your local playground? Should I say something to the vendors?

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5 Responses to Silly Me, I Thought Playgrounds Are For Playing
  1. K Squared Glamour
    May 19, 2012 | 10:02 am

    wow what a crazy park experience you had! I cant say anything like this has happened before at the playgrounds we have gone to.
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  2. LaVonne
    Twitter: longwait4bella
    May 19, 2012 | 12:30 pm

    An ice cream man was coming to our town last summer, and it turned out he was also selling drugs to kids! It was terrible. I am not saying they are all like that, but I for one, would not want the ice cream truck coming every day to our local park. My daughter would not be getting ice cream daily, but she’d see other kids getting it, and feel bad. I would not want to go to that park every day for that reason.
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  3. Jen Edmund Gelfman
    Twitter: NYCKidsbookshop
    May 19, 2012 | 3:23 pm

    Hi Ghada, :)

    This makes me think of the day I took my kids to the Bronx to visit the Central Library, and before home-bound we stopped in at a park., one word sums it up… Infuriating!

    From my experience I’d say it depends on neighborhood the playground is in or near you’d see these vendors, more than less.

    I’d suggest that local families with kids get in touch with community groups/local reps and address the matter. There seriously need to be zoning and restriction guidelines for where they are allowed to sell.

    I’m in W’burg, and there are various small parks in neighborhood where I take the kids and ice cream/icy vendors are a no-show. Only an ice cream truck passes from time to time on the warm days or as Summer goes into full swing, that’s about it.

    Happy Weekend’ 😉

  4. Gena
    May 19, 2012 | 4:15 pm

    Ice cream trucks are a nuisance! One drives by our house every so often and it drives me nuts. They’re loud, annoying, and tempt my three year old and bring him to tears if we don’t have any cash. I agree with you, if I want ice cream, I know where to go and also, where to find it cheaper than an ice cream truck. They’re nice to have, I guess, if you don’t have a car, but do people really need ice cream all the time??

  5. Dede
    Twitter: savinginseconds
    May 19, 2012 | 5:05 pm

    Am I the only one with paranoia that the ice cream sold from these vendors might not be in date? Yes, I ate ice cream sold from trucks back in the day, but I wouldn’t let my kids eat this under any circumstance. I just don’t trust anyone anymore, which is sad. And about the motorized car…..some parents just don’t have any sense. Who brings something like that to a playground?!
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