Timehop tells me I’ve been going to Touch-a-Truck events since 2013. This year alone we’ve been to four with at least one more on our calendar.
If you’ve never been, a Touch-a-Truck event consists of big rigs, construction and utility trucks, public safety vehicles and more, parked in a lot for the public. Some are just for show (I’ve seen a Batmobile at quite a few events), but most allow kids to climb inside. What a treat for imaginative play!
I’m going to share how to find Touch-a-Truck events, enjoy the experience, and sometimes just survive.
I’ll give some caveats first: I live in Kettering, so although I am willing to drive ways for a great event, my radius of travel is from our home. Also, I’m sharing my experience that might not reflect your family style or work for you. Take what you want and leave the rest.
How to Find
Some cities publish a seasonal guide highlighting activities. I’ve seen Centerville-Washington showcase their Big Rig Gig (my closest fave) and Kettering their Touch-a-Truck event (Goldilocks size) in these publications.
Doing a search on Facebook this year I found a new-to-us event in West Chester. It was phenomenal and well worth the 45-minute drive.
Many of these Touch-a-Truck events are annual. Attending them once will inform you approximately when and where they will be next year (I say approximately since for instance Kettering’s event has moved locations over some years).
How to Prepare
This is largely based on your own kids and their needs. Is your child younger or skittish with loud noises? There are lots of loud horn honking at these events, and sometimes standing in line you are very close to the source. Buying or borrowing noise-canceling headphones may make the day more enjoyable.
There is a lot of standing in line. Bringing something to occupy the downtime can keep the spirits up. Snacks are usually a good bet. And bringing drinks is already great for standing around on hot days keeping hydrated. A sticker book or other small, portable thing can help make the waiting more bearable. Sunscreen and hats are great, too.
Speaking of bringing something with you, more than likely, you will leave with more stuff than you came with. It has been my experience many companies or organizations have pamphlets, coloring pages, stickers, hats, and all sorts of promotional items. Bring a bag to carry it all around.
How to Enjoy
My biggest tip is hit the emergency vehicles first (especially the fire engine/truck). I have been to more than one event where they had to leave on a call. The lines are also best if you can do it first thing; they only get longer.
Setting realistic standards will ensure everyone is happy. Seeing every single vehicle, unless the event is small, can be too much. Between the downtime of the lines, some disinterest or intimidation (some of those vehicles are high), and the heat of standing around on pavement, there is not much to gain from pushing completion. Having a must-see short list is great. Then everything else is gravy.
Start a conversation with your kids about the vehicles and their operators. Some can provide information into their trade or work day. And giving high fives or fist bumps can be a great way to show appreciation for participating in these events.
How to Survive
I have three children and being the first out of the siblings is a big deal with right now. I try to referee best I can. Our last event, my eldest made a poor choice right from the get-go so he was last the rest of the time.
Some vehicles are button-heaven. My kids have a field day pushing and turning everything in sight. Others, like the front of an emergency vehicle, are for eyes only. Communicating which vehicles are okay for touching or not is helpful. I try and tell mine kids things like, “This car is for looking; hands in our lap.”
Having waited in some bigger lines, I personally try and keep the kids to a reasonable time in the vehicles. My kids seem to respond alright to transition warnings, so I might say, “30 seconds”, or “one last button”, so I’m not climbing up and retrieving a disgruntled child.
Going to area (and surrounding) Touch-a-Truck events make for great pictures and memories. Hopefully, these tips will help ensure a terrific time.
If you’ve got the itch to seek out an upcoming event, Miamisburg’s Touch-a-Truck is being held on Friday, July 20th from 12:30-2:30 at Riverfront Park. See exploremiamsiburg.com