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Kids, parents see heavy machinery up close at Touch-A-Truck event
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James Moore, 4, his grandmother, Evanda Moore and sister Abigail, 3, check out the small track hoe Saturday at Touch-A-Truck at City Park in Gainesville. - photo by NAT GURLEY

Kids got a chance to gape, touch and climb on some heavy machinery Saturday afternoon at City Park in Gainesville at the 14th annual Touch-A-Truck event.

Gainesville Police Department spokesman Cpl. Kevin Holbrook was at the police tent, where all manner of police vehicles were on display: SUV, truck, sedan and clearly the kid favorite, motorcycle.

“Look how fast it can go,” Kevin Connell showed his 8-year-old son Daniel on the motorcycle’s speedometer. The motorcycle was his “favorite,” Daniel said.

“I like riding on my bike at home. It makes me feel like I’m on a motorcycle,” he added.

“We love it,” his mom Jennifer Connell said, noting they last came to the event in 2009. “We hated that we missed it when we did. We moved her five years ago, and the one weekend we moved here, this was going on, and we thought that it was a great community event.”

Asked if he might want to be a cop someday, Daniel responded with a resounding “Yep!”

The free event features dozens more than just law enforcement vehicles. There were fire trucks, tow trucks, big rigs and military vehicles.

Jessica Williams heard about the event on Facebook, and brought her two children Cloie, 6, and Zach, 3, to see the vehicles.

“He’s crazy about trucks and anything with a motor pretty much. And I knew she’d like it because, well, heavy machinery,” she said with a laugh.

She said her daughter’s favorite was the ambulance and her son’s favorite was the fire truck, which featured a towering 100-foot ladder. Kids needed a boost just to get in the driver’s seat of the elevated truck.

The sound of a horn blowing was continually heard over the three-hour event, although parents didn’t seem to mind.
Parents and officials alike said they were excited for the opportunity to show the vehicles, boasting it as a teaching moment for kids to learn about the roles the engines play in their daily lives.

Hall County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Gene Joy is the department’s director of school-based programs. He played music and handed out Junior Deputy stickers to kids with other sheriff’s deputies stationed at the truck they brought along.

“The thing about this, it gives the children an opportunity to go around and tour the public safety vehicles and other vehicles that are on display today, and have a chance to ask the drivers and the owners of these vehicles questions about their jobs, and what they do with those specialized vehicles,” Joy said. “And we’ve got moonwalks and other things out here for the kids. It’s a great day.”

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