Up close and personal: Local children explore buses, firetrucks, tractors and more at Touch a Truck

The Mahomet Parks and Recreation Department hosted the Touch a Truck event at Barber Park last Saturday.

The rainy weather couldn't deter the dozens of eager youngsters who spent the morning exploring firetrucks, tractors, police cars and many other pieces of big equipment.

Denise Reynolds, program coordinator for Mahomet Parks and Recreation, set up the event, and another one could be in the works sooner rather than later.

"It was kind of a no-brainer that we should have an event like this," Reynolds said. "I've seen them in other towns and I've been to them, and so I was like, 'Why don't we have this here?'

"It was a first-time event, but we will definitely continue to have it because I think we should. It's great for families with young children."

A large majority of attendees were from Mahomet, but Rantoul native Stuart Turner brought his 3-year-old son Aiden down to check out the monster vehicles.

Aiden climbed up and around the tractors and the school bus before hitting up the popular firetruck provided by the Cornbelt Fire Protection District.

"He's been into tractors, trucks and anything with wheels since he was about 1," Turner said. "When they said, 'Hey, come climb around on some of these,' I was like, 'Yes, we're doing this.'

"My wife is actually out of town, so this is something that we could do, and he's already loving it. This is the first time that I've seen one, but anytime there's something like this or monster truck shows, we try to take him out to it. It's interesting stuff to do for both of us."

The Mahomet-Seymour School District supplied a bus, and Reynolds Towing brought out a massive flatbed tow truck.

"We love to support the community and the park district," Reynolds Towing employee Paul Mattingly said. "We do several of these and the kids love to see things like this. This is the third one we've done in the last three weeks. If it wasn't raining, we'd have the bed down and we'd have them running up and down."

The rain lightened up for the final two hours of the event, and a steady stream of people filtered in and out of Barber Park throughout the day.

"We didn't have exact numbers, but it was consistent for the three hours," Reynolds said. "Probably around 150 people came through the whole time."

Reynolds hopes to have another Touch a Truck event next year, but one this fall wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility. Reynolds would like to add an ambulance, the SWAT team truck and more farming equipment.

"Everybody was very helpful and excited to do it, so it wasn't hard at all," Reynolds said. "We have a very supportive community. The school district was so happy to help us. They were great.

"They had never done it before, but they were explaining all the things about the bus to the kids and did an awesome job."

Expansion and growth have been the name of the game for the Mahomet Parks and Recreation Department. The Touch a Truck event was just another example of what they hope to continue to provide for the community.

"We just want to continue to grow," Reynolds said. "You look at our program guide this year and we've gotten the opportunity to add a lot of stuff. My goal in working here for the past two years is to expand programming.

"Not just in numbers, but by the people that we reach. That's the goal for the new programming that is coming up. We've got renovations to our building right now which will allow us to provide a rental space to the community for birthday parties. That'll be available soon."


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