MOSES LAKE — A horde of kids and their parents turned out to look over fire trucks, buses, police vehicles and even a helicopter at the annual Touch a Truck event Saturday. The event was held in the parking lot of Ephrata’s Splash Zone water park under a warm, sunny sky.
“We’ve had lots of kids, lots of parents,” said Grant County Sheriff’s Deputy Kyle Tucker, standing next to a motorcycle and an ATV, both of which were being checked out by visitors. “The kids are asking some really good questions,” he said, adding that they hadn’t managed to stump him yet.
It wasn’t just vehicles that caught the kids’ attention. In one grassy area, the Ephrata Fire Department had made a small wooden facade of a building on fire, and firefighters helped kids aim the fire hose at the structure to extinguish it. Another volunteer took kids on a mini-train rides around the display. A booth near the pool entrance let kids learn about fire safety.
One of the more popular vehicles was an enormous garbage truck owned by Consolidated Disposal. Employee Mario Cruz, who was presiding over the vehicle, thought it might be because it had “the loudest horn around here,” and kids certainly did love to honk it.
Five-year-old Paisley LaJueness, climbing down out of a Washington National Guard truck, said that her favorite vehicle was the bus. “Even though she rides it every day,” said her dad. Paisley’s sister McKinley, 4, was more entranced by the helicopter, however.
McKinley’s choice was certainly a popular one, as kids were lined up to have a chance to sit in the chopper brought in by Life Flight. Flight Nurse Andrew Clemens helped kids into the pilot’s and passenger seats one at a time.
Although official head counts weren’t available, Grant County Fire District No. 13 Chief Jim Stucky said the firefighters had brought three boxes of plastic helmets, and the first box disappeared almost immediately. He estimated that as of about noon they had given away “200, almost 300 helmets.” About the same time, Washington State Patrol Trooper Justin Cloud estimated that his vehicles had been visited by 75 to 100 kids.
“Kids are happy, the parents are happy,” he said.