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Get the feel for some big rigs
Annual Touch-A-Truck event lets kids (and adults) experience trucks and police cars
Hall County Sheriff's Office SWAT Truck - photo by SARA GUEVARA

For the ninth year, Gainesville residents - and their little ones - will have a chance to climb into big rigs, police vehicles and wreckers for the annual Touch-A-Truck.

"Being a kid myself ... I think it's just a great opportunity," said Gainesville Police Chief Frank Hooper. "You can ride by a construction site and see some heavy equipment out there working, or a police car or a fire truck or anything like that and as a kid that just catches your eye; even as an adult it catches your eye.

"It's just something a little different and so to have the opportunity to sit in it and crawl around on it is a real treat for a kid."

The event at City Park, which is sponsored by Gainesville Parks and Recreation, will feature two wreckers, a tractor-
trailer, a Gainesville police car and buses, among other large vehicles. The Hall County Sheriff's Office will even have a mobile communications unit on hand.

According to Maj. Jeff Strickland with the Hall County Sheriff's Office, the SWAT truck that will make an appearance at City Park is a mobile communications unit that has all the capabilities of being at the station.

"It is a command and communications center for the Hall County Sheriff's Office," he said. "(We) use it for the dive team ... especially in the cooler seasons, if the divers need to get into an area that is warm after they have been in the water. We've used it a number of times when we've had storm damage, any type of SWAT call and type of large-scale crimes."

Strickland added that the $150,000 vehicle was paid for by a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Eddie Everette of Gainesville Towing said the 35-foot wrecker they will showcase tows other large vehicles like big rigs, concrete trucks, buses, campers and fire trucks.

The Gainesville Fire Department will be represented with one of its standard fire trucks, according to Ron Walters from Station No. 2.

"One today (costs) around $350,000 with probably about $20,000 to equip it with hose and ladders and power tools and all the accessories," he said.

Other activities planned for the day are inflatable jumping toys for the children and temporary tattoos. The Hall County Sheriff's Office will DJ the event.

"We are doing hot dogs and hamburgers and our ever-popular snow cones," said Andi Harmon, recreation program manager for Gainesville Parks and Recreation. "We'll have T-shirts for the event as well as onesies that say ‘Baby's First Touch-A-Truck.' The T-shirts are available in youth sizes and the onesies are available and of course we have youth sizes."