There’s something about big trucks that brings families back to Gainesville’s City Park every year.
Gainesville Parks and Recreation’s annual Touch-A-Truck event is set for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4. The free event gives children a chance to look at, climb on and get inside vehicles of all types and sizes and interact with the people who drive them.
When: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4
Where: City Park, 898 Longstreet Circle, Gainesville
How much: Free
More info: 770-531-2680, www.gainesville.org/fm/events/detail/id/2229
“The big thing that we always have going on is all the police and fire department vehicles,” said Michael Waters, recreation program coordinator for Gainesville Parks and Rec. “All the big firetrucks and the flashing lights and everything the kids like to play with will be there.”
Many workers with the city and local businesses offer time with kids and the trucks. Gainesville Solid Waste will have a street sweeper, Mansfield Oil will have a tanker truck on display and Jackson EMC is bringing a bucket truck. There will be tractors and a school bus, too.
“That’s one of my favorite parts of the event,” Waters said. “Just how nice and generous people are with their time. They are coming out on a Saturday when they could be working and producing income, but instead they hear that it’s a kid-friendly event, they’re coming out to look at the trucks, and they jump all over it.”
The only thing missing this year is a helicopter that had been on hand in recent years, as the company that provides the helicopter had to cut back on some events.
For children who don’t care much for trucks, there still is plenty to do: inflatable bounce houses, face painting, temporary tattoos, plus an ice cream truck and shaved ice treats to keep things cool.
Waters said one of the favorites each year are firetrucks, because of their size and flashing lights. “All the children look up to the firemen and are happy to see them,” he said, making it a fun event for the fire department crews as well.
“The goal, and probably the mission, is just to create a fun, family-filled day,” Waters said. “The kids get to sit in their car and watch a firetruck go by, but they never get to get up close to it. So this is just something to create that memory that they walked inside a firetruck or got their picture in a police car.”
Another goal is to make first responders more accessible and give children a chance to interact with them so they feel more comfortable when they encounter them.
“It’s almost like a trust factor they’re creating,” Waters said. “The kids are coming around them and they’re being super friendly and nice and getting to show them around. It just kind of creates this bond almost between the two, so when they see them out in public, they remember they saw them before and they’re really nice, so it makes them more friendly to go up and speak with.”