Tribune photo by Kevin Pang, August 9, 2007
In a rare occurrence of an encased-meat vehicle committing a traffic violation, Chicago police ticketed the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile for illegal parking on the Magnificent Mile.
The incident began at 10:57 a.m. in the 400 block of North Michigan Avenue. At least two members of the Wienermobile entourage left the vehicle in the six-lane street with its emergency blinkers on. The vehicle is registered to Kraft Foods under the Wisconsin license plate "WEENR."
Matt Smith of the city's Streets and Sanitation Department said the city would have been ready to handle the job.
"We have access to tow trucks that could have handled a Polish sausage, not just a hot dog," Smith said.
The officer wrote the ticket and affixed it to the wiener's footlong side mirror. Ed Walsh, a spokesman for the city Department of Revenue, said parking in a "Parking/Standing Prohibited Anytime" zone is a $50 violation.
About 15 minutes later, as curious passersby snapped pictures with their camera phones, the driver and passenger of the vehicle returned before tow trucks could arrive. "The situation was resolved without the use of ketchup, which in Chicago is a big thing," Smith said.
The entourage got a grilling from the officer.
"You can't just park here," the officer said.
One of the passengers, who declined to be identified, said they were visiting a Wienermobile alumnus who worked nearby, but were unaware that one could not park a giant sausage in the middle of the city's busiest thoroughfare.
Sydney Lindner, a spokeswoman for Kraft Foods, said the Wienermobile is on a nationwide tour promoting a contest to sing the Oscar Mayer jingle in an upcoming commercial.
She said "regardless of the reason" the driver had for parking there, the company neither condones nor relishes such actions.
"It's against company policy to park in undesignated area even if you're driving a company vehicle that's shaped like a giant hot dog," Lindner said. "We appreciate the police doing their job and we regret any inconvenience this may have caused."
The hot dog was last seen driving north on Michigan Avenue.
Tribune staff reporter Jason Meisner contributed.