Joanie Compton, 7, and her brother R.J., 5, play in the back of ambulance. Joanie giggles as she pretends to heal her little brother by telling him to lie down on the stretcher.
They are playing in an actual ambulance at the 12th annual Touch-a-Truck, held Saturday at City Park in Gainesville. Kids got the rare opportunity to climb inside and learn about big rigs, ambulances, fire trucks, police cars and many other work vehicles.
"Kids are just amazed by heavy machinery and all the knick-knacks that come with it," said Taylor Davis, Parks and Recreation project coordinator.
Parents and children alike were excited to see the inside of the service vehicles they pass on the road everyday. Parents took the opportunity to teach their children about the roles the engines play in their daily lives.
Caroline Hollier brought her children, Savannah, 6, and Hunter, 2 to see the vehicles. She said it was a neat experience to be able to show them the inside of an ambulance. She hopes as a result they won't be afraid should they ever have to ride in one.
Savannah said she prefers the trucks, especially the big ones. Her favorite part was the "loud horns."
Five-year-old Scarlett Daniels will be starting kindergarten soon. She is looking forward to riding the school bus when school starts, though she won't be sitting in the driver's seat like she did yesterday.
"It was fun because I like honking the horn. It sounds like a truck," Scarlett said.
Touch-a-Truck has been a popular event for families since it started. About 1,500 people were expected to attend this year's event.
"I think we've had a great turnout," said Joe Britte, Public Information Officer for Gainesville Police Department.
"I am absolutely excited about this event because kids get to see first hand what type of vehicles we use as law enforcement."
Jason Towe drives an ACE Hardware semi-truck. He said driving is his passion. He spent the afternoon letting kids ride up and down on the truck's hydraulic lift, a platform used for loading materials into the trailer.
"I really enjoy the kids and seeing them have a good time," Towe said.
Kyle Coffee is a driver for UPS. He has participated in Touch-a-Truck for the last five years. He said it's a great opportunity for parents and children to get an idea of what kind of work goes on behind the scene.
"A lot of kids see the UPS truck pull into their driveway and they get excited because they're getting a package. But they don't get a chance to be able to get on the truck and touch it," Coffee said.
"This is just one way parents can bring their kids out and let them touch and be in a safe environment."