It’s a tradition in many Iowa towns. The "whistle" blows at noon. Oftentimes it’s the town’s tornado siren that marks the start of the noon hour.
Grinnell Mayor Gordon Canfield has been fielding complaints about the noise of Grinnell’s noon-time whistle. "There are people who are sleeping during that time because they work a night shift and children, babies are trying to take naps and so forth and it wakes ’em up," Canfield says, "and it’s just not the best thing to be using an emergency-sound siren for the noon whistle."
Grinnell’s public safety committee has recommended that the city council vote to end the noon whistle in Grinnell. Mayor Canfield says the custom is a throw-back to earlier times.
"I think noon whistles came from the old days when they even had factory whistles and told people when they ought to quit for lunch," Canfield says. "…Now, everybody has a watch or a clock."
Grinnell’s noon whistle still sounds daily at straight up 12 o’clock, but the city council will consider ending the tradition.