INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Hundreds upon hundreds of children, with parents and grandparents in tow, briefly stood in awe of the massive trucks that lined the Indian River County Fairgrounds. Then, they snapped out of it and, tugging on the hands of their companions, they ran from one truck to another, waiting anxiously in line to check out the cab and honk the horn.
“She wishes Mater were here,” said Grandpa Ed Stevens, looking down at an antsy 4-year-old Jessica Pattison who tried patiently to wait to move on to the next vehicle. She had just climbed out of the cab of the Cemex cement truck, blaring the horn twice.
“Her dad loves trucks,” Stevens said, noting that’s part of the reason Jessica was so enthralled with the fourth annual Touch A Truck Family Festival. “She was very excited about the horns.”
Nearly three-dozen companies and organizations brought out at least one large vehicle to the festival this year. “Trucks” was expanded to include buses and ambulances.
Among those in attendance, showing off their big trucks was the City of Vero Beach’s Electric Utility, which sent out two transmission and distribution trucks. One truck is used to sink electric poles into the ground, the other has a bucket that allows linemen to safely access power lines overhead.
“We bring our best out,” said Lineman Roger Kelly while co-worker Earl Hix gave a kid a tour of the cab.
Kelly said it was important for them to participate in the festival to help promote what the city’s electric utility does.
“We work for the community,” he said.
About 20 kids stood in line in front of a truck a couple spots down from Vero’s line trucks, all waiting their turn to go up in PAH Constructor’s bucket truck to drop a few balls down into a kiddie pool.
Sixteen-month-old Luke McGinty stopped in his tracks as he and his dad approached the mammoth truck.
“He absolutely loves trucks,” Dad Mark McGinty said. “He’s just fixated.”
The Palm City residents made the drive to the Indian River County Fairgrounds specifically for the festival because of Luke’s fascination with the machines.
When asked if Luke might one day be a big truck operator, McGinty said they’d have to wait and see but it was certainly possible.
Ray Taft, 5, and his brother, Spencer, 3, of North Carolina, were in Vero Beach visiting their grandparents Scott and Sally Morton, who decided the boys had to come out for the fresh air, sunshine, and, of course, the trucks.
“Little boys and trucks,” Sally Morton mused.
Both boys said their favorite part of the festival so far had been riding up in the bucket of the PAH Constructor’s truck, but they also liked checking out the Indian River County Fire Rescue Ambulance.
While the boys had fun climbing into trucks’ cabs and honking horns, the grandparents said they, too, were having fun taking it all in.
Touch A Truck was put on this year by Childcare Resources with the Exchange Club of Indian River as a partner.
“We’re both benefiting from it,” Jenny Frederick, secretary of the Exchange Club, said of helping Childcare Resources to put on the family friendly event.
“We’ve got some great volunteers,” said Childcare Resources representative Sarah Starr. “The response from the community has been great. People just come out in droves.”