How Late Can Ice Cream Trucks Legally Play Music in Massachusetts?
The summer season has arrived and folks across Massachusetts are enjoying all that comes with it. Summer BBQs, pool parties, vacation road trips, and, of course, ICE CREAM.
I've never been one to head out specifically for ice cream. Do I like it? Sure, but I don't make it a destination. What I do remember from my childhood summers on the Connecticut shore was the excitement I felt when I heard the distant sound of the ice cream truck. Even though it was probably half a mile down the beach, my brother cousins, and I would drop what we were doing and beg the nearest adult for cash with a sense of urgency.
Now, as an adult when I hear the tones of the ice cream truck cruising around the streets of my very family-friendly Pittsfield, Massachusetts neighborhood, all I think is those poor parents! Something that brings kids so much joy is probably a parent's worst enemy by the time September rolls around. Not to mention the time of day that some of these trucks run! I swear I heard this guy cruise down the street (at a glacial pace) at 8:30 the other night, and no this wasn't a weekend, it was a Tuesday.
So it got me thinking, there has to be an ordinance capping the time Ice Cream trucks can play music, right? The answer: not really.
Is It Illegal for Ice Cream Trucks to Play Music After a Certain Hour in Massachusetts?
In most Massachusetts cities and towns, there are noise ordinances that prevent loud music (among other things) after a certain time. Generally speaking, noise ordinances in Massachusetts prevent noises over a certain decibel between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., although there are multiple variations that depend on proximity to other homes, businesses, parks etc, and size of the town or city, according to nonoise.org. For example, Boston's noise ordinance starts at 11 p.m. rather than 9 p.m.
So technically, as long as the volume is low enough, and it's before your area's noise ordinance kicks in, ice cream trucks are free to play their music.
However, I did discover that once Massachusetts town added language specific to ice cream trucks to their town ordinances. According to The Eagle-Tribune, in 2010, the City Council of Methuen, Massachusetts voted 8-1 "to add language to the city noise ordinance that specifically mentions ice-cream vendors as prohibited from playing music in city streets." The complaint the sparked the council's vote did come from a parent, but not over a general annoyance with the noise, it seemed from her 10-year-old autistic son who was sensitive to noise. Her young child experienced panic attacks due to the truck's music.
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