Kids poured into the parking lot on the campus of St. John Catholic School on Saturday, June 8. They had come for the second annual Touch a Truck event, where for just $2 they could learn about all kinds of trucks — touching allowed.
The children climbed inside, blew the horns and touched shiny chrome.
“They absolutely love the trucks,” Bernie Zaworski said of his children. He was there with his wife Jen and their four young ones. “They see them on the road, but it’s not all the time that they can jump inside. It’s a cool experience.”
Eight-year-old Maddie agreed with her dad.
“I like the water truck,” she said. “It felt good to knock the figures down!”
Maddie was talking about the display set up by Allbrite Roof & Exterior Cleaning. Superhero action figures were lined up on a table behind the truck for the kids to shoot down with water.
Hailey Fuhr of Westminster brought four of her five boys to see the trucks. They jumped in line for an opportunity to knock over the action figures.
Eight-year-old Jeremy Fuhr couldn’t wait.
“I like all the trucks,” he said. But I really like the one that shoots water. You can shoot down the figures. I want to do that!”
Allbrite’s John Woytowitz helped kids with the hose while marketing administrator Victoria Bromley greeted children still in the line.
“The kids absolutely love it,” she said. “And we like interacting with them.”
The Touch a Truck event at St John’s was started by Caitlyn Dudley, a technology integration teacher at St. John’s and a parent to three attending students. She said the first hour of the event was sensory-friendly, with no horns or sirens.
“I am a military spouse, and everywhere we have lived has had this event for their communities,” she said. “I started this to bring young families to our preschool and kindergarten programs, as well as build community relations with our surrounding businesses and community helpers.”
Dudley said over 300 kids turned out in 2018. This year seemed just as popular.
“We have about 20 to 25 trucks,” she said. “This is a child's dream. They get to climb in and out of, and see up close, their favorite vehicles. These trucks are larger than life, and [it’s] very exciting to see them up close.”
Michael Pittinaro of Westminster agreed. He was there with his wife Katie and their children: Henry, 2, and Carmella, 5.
“Our kids love trucks,” Pittinaro said. “We did a Touch a Truck up in Littlestown [Pennsylvania] a few years ago at the [YMCA], and Henry loved it”
It was the second year for Cara Lagatare of Hampstead to bring her three children to the event.
“We want to make it an annual tradition,” she said. “We came early because we heard the first hour was the quiet hour. Last year, Anthony did not like the honking and sirens.”
Jimmy Myers of Mike’s Towing and Recovery smiled at the line of kids waiting to climb into the seat of his huge truck.
“We do two other touch-a-trucks in Hanover and Littlestown,” he said, noting how he would have loved this when he was a child.
“It’s nice to come out and see them climb into the trucks to see what it is all about,” Myers said. “There’s nothing they can hurt in the truck. As long as it’s not running, nothing works. This is all about the kids.”
Across the lot yellow hats bobbed as kids ran from truck to truck. Hampstead-based construction company C.J. Miller gave out the hats, with matching yellow safety vests. While Jennifer Williams — a marketing manager and recruiter for C.J. Miller — greeted kids and handed out hats, her co-worker lifted the children onto the large truck bed.
“We had the hats last year. Then we added the vests, and they love it,” Williams said. “I heard one kid refer to it as his cape!”
Williams said her company wants kids to get excited about the industry.
“Like many companies, we are all hurting for laborers and drivers,” she said. “There is a national drivers shortage. If we can start building enthusiasm at a young age, that’s good. And they love it!”
Westminster firefighter Bryan Deckelman stopped to chat before climbing up a fully extended ladder. In complete firefighter dress, he moved skyward.
“I love doing this, seeing the kids’ faces light up,” Deckelman said. He remembered the first time he climbed into a fire truck as a kid. “It got me excited and piqued my interest. My grandfather was a paramedic and firefighter down in Pikesville after the military, and my uncle was a firefighter and paramedic in Anne Arundel County. It runs in the family.”
Across the lot, kids stopped to inspect all sorts of vehicles. TFC Pettis of Maryland State Police chatted with Officer Nicholas Spioch of the Amtrak Police Deptartment, who was there with his bomb-sniffing dog, Sylvia. There were tow trucks, recovery trucks, feed trucks, an oil truck, a Mission BBQ truck and more.
“I like that one,” Camden Lagatare said, pointing to the black BBQ truck.
“My favorite is the fire truck,” his brother Anthony said.
“Me too,” sister Olivia agreed. “I like how it’s loud!”