LARAMIE – The sun came out and warmed up the parking lot at the Laramie Ice and Event Center on Saturday. Sponsored by the City of Laramie, in conjunction with Mountain Cement, Pete Lien & Sons, Inc., & Dirt-Tech Excavation & Trucking combined with many other generous sponsors, the 3rd Annual Touch-A-Truck Event was a big hit.

LaramieLive.com photos/Tom Kocal

The family-oriented event attracted hundreds of kids of all ages, including old guys like this reporter. Participants handed out collector cards, like baseball cards, that described the piece of equipment, and named them, too. For example, the Laramie Fire Department brought Luke the Ladder and Ernie the Engine. And Hanna the Helicopter was quite popular, too.

Luke Sharp, a machine operator for sponsor Pete Lien and Sons, said the kids love the 773G Cat haul truck, a 60-ton machine – the bigger, the better.  “What I’m seeing today is that they definitely found the horn. That is the big, hot ticket item today! They are definitely impressed with the size of the machine, they are in awe when they walk up to it. A lot of comments on how big the tires are, too.”

A helicopter from AirLife was a big attraction. Jared Hedden, a flight nurse with AirLife Denver, said they work out of Cheyenne and cover about 150 miles around the local area.

“Kids love it that the helicopter is loud and they can see it fly in, it doesn’t drive in on the road. You can see it coming from miles away, and it’s not an every-day thing. We see a lot of construction workers on the side of the road, and ambulances working up and down the highways. But you don’t see a helicopter every day. It’s something new and interesting for them, and they definitely have a lot of good questions pertaining to what we do and  what the pilot has to do to fly in.”

Scott Hunter, the City of Laramie Parks Manager, gave a great explanation as to why so many people are attracted to these amazing giant vehicles.

“They’re kids! Kids want to dig, they want big tractors. They want to go out and have fun and make a mess. That’s what this does.”

The 3rd annual Touch a Truck event is geared around the concept of providing children of all ages an opportunity to experience their favorite trucks and vehicles up close. But what turned out to be the most popular attraction during the event? Making noise. And the air horn was the tool of choice.

Jody Sullivan with the University of Wyoming Transit and Parking Services is a charter driver for the transit side of the department. The charter bus on display carries up to 56 passengers and all their baggage and equipment.

“So far, the favorite feature of this bus is definitely the air horn. It’s the loudest horn here, and they like to blow it!” said Sullivan.

Mark Worth with the Habitat and Access Branch of the Wyoming Game and Fish Dept., brought one of the department’s dump trucks and a backhoe.

“Kids like the horn – a lot. The air-ride seat goes up and down, too, but it ran out of air. But the horn is their favorite part.”

Charles VanHeule drives the Pepsi truck on campus.

“It’s a service delivery truck with side bays and hydraulic lift. We let people climb in the cab, look around, push all the buttons, and have a lot of fun. It’s a great outreach for us, good advertising, and it’s nice to see everybody,” VanHeule said.

“Usually, the air horn is very popular, but we disabled it today! People just like climbing into big trucks. Kids love big trucks. Obviously, the big trucks today that are the big draw are the fire truck and the helicopter. But any semi that they can climb into is nice to see and learn about.”

Cy Cass, acting company officer with Laramie FD Ladder 5 out of station 2, said the department brought the ladder truck, brush truck and ambulance, and had a great time hanging out with the kids and handing out free stuff.

Did they disconnect the horn?

“We absolutely did! We’re just showing the kids around the apparatus, so they get to hop in and check it out. I think they like the ladder the most. Everybody wants to climb the ladder today. But we’re leaving that up to the firemen.”

The event was free, and included story time sponsored by the Albany County Public Library, with stories about trucks and tractors and flying machines. All donations made will benefit the City of Laramie Parks & Recreation Department Scholarship Fund, which truly makes the programs and facilities of the City of Laramie’s Parks & Recreation Department “A place for all.”