Sunday, Aug. 1, is upon us and it is a stifling hot afternoon as I arrive at the Pueblo Convention Center ready for the day’s adventure.
It’s 1:30 p.m. when I arrive and as I park and make my way to the event entrance, I am greeted by the noise of many sirens and horns being blown. I smiled to myself amused, as this was the inaugural Touch-A-Truck event, hosted by the Junior League of Pueblo, and the Pueblo Convention Center.
Here, children and adults had the opportunity to explore and play around with several different trucks and other vehicles.
Entering through what I perceived to be the front gate, and only later found out was the back gate, I was immediately entranced by the truck to my left, which happened to be Pueblo’s bomb squad. While the truck resembled a large van or camper with several compartments full of equipment, what truly caught my eye was the mobile robotic arm.
It was a sight to watch as the officer brought out a huge remote control with which he could drive the arm around with, and also move the arm itself in a variety of ways. As the arm slowly maneuvered on its tracks, (its base was set up with the tracks of a tank presumably to maneuver over bumpy terrain) the officer slowly clenched its hand.
To the left of the bomb squad was another attraction that captured the attention of many children at the event. This was two old fire trucks, one of which was spraying its hose at low power.
The children were laughing and yelling as they ran through the water, and even I was tempted to do so given the heat of the day. I, however, passed these by desiring first to go and see the police SUV and car that were slightly further down in the parking lot.
While I took a few pictures of these more ordinary vehicles, I passed by to an armored emergency extraction vehicle that resembled an armored jeep you might see a machine gun on top of a roof. Inside of this vehicle there was much S.W.A.T. gear, including a riot shield. After this interesting vehicle, you had a trash truck followed by some heavy machinery, mostly used for construction.
On the right hand side, there was a water works truck, and, at the very end of the line, an ice cream truck, which surprisingly drew a large number of kids, though I do not doubt this was so as many hoped for an ice cream upon seeing it.
As I approached this far end, I saw a small booth set up by the other gate and realized my error of having come in the back. I made my way to the booth, and I was greeted by the sight of a mascot a large Cat wearing a Pueblo Community College jersey.
As I watched the mascot entertain several children I could not help but wonder how they stayed cool in the suit, on such a hot day as this. Turning away and directing my attention to the workers at the booth, I received my arm band, which allowed me to climb in vehicles.
While the event itself is free, the workers did require me to sign a waiver for safety purposes, and so that they could keep a count of attendance. With two hours left to the event, which had begun at 10 a.m. and ended at 4 p.m., I was told around 500 families had already been in attendance. Before I turned away I asked about the motivation behind the event, and was pleased to find that it was to promote awareness for children’s literacy and wellness, and just one of many sponsored by the Junior League of Pueblo.
I also learned that right before my arrival, the children had been treated to a special event as the Flight for Life helicopter had landed in the parking lot.
While I had seen the helicopter I had not yet had the chance to view it closer, and while I greatly desired to do so, I first decided to escape the heat for a while and check out the activities inside the event center.
Once inside the building, which is marvelously fresh on this hot day, I discovered in what must have been a large dinner hall, many tables set up in the center of the room and clustered around the door, each with different crafts, or informational displays.
Directly across from the door, there was a large multi colored blow up slide that came complete with a seemingly endlessly moving line of small children climbing up and zooming back down.
As I approached this slide I found the wall to my right opened up to a small alcove and there they had place a small square of hardwood floor over the carpet. The purpose was to set up a rink for small plastic bumper pedal bikes.
Here, a number of children were gleefully scooting themselves around and enjoying the simple pleasure of ramming into each other. I tarried to watch for on
ly a moment before turning away and making my circuit around the rest of the room.
As I turned toward the fall wall of the room I saw a raised platform with a podium upon it which was also surrounded by many tables, where families could sit and eat.
I wondered if they perhaps had given out awards and such earlier but the question was clean driven out of my head by the monitor behind the podium which was tuned to the Denver Bronco game.
I stood for a moment watching just long enough to see the opening kickoff before I turned away to the last corner of the room which housed a bouncy house and one lonely table for the new Cross-Fit Gym.
While many children enjoyed the bounce house there were very few who tried the cross fit rope ladder challenge. Turning away from this I made my way back up the near wall and back out into the hallway.
Taking a left I was to the entrance, where I noticed on a table they we’re giving away free Bronco schedules.
Grabbing one of these I proceeded back outside into the sunlight and headed for my final destination.
Saving the best for last, I inspected the helicopter from All Angels, before circling around and standing in the line that had formed to view the cockpit.
After about 15 minutes, it was finally my turn and I was truly amazed at how the small seeming cockpit could fit two or more people and a stretcher simultaneously, as well as the vast array of gauges and switches that lined the front panel.
All to soon, my time was up, and I found myself forced to avert my gaze and hop down, so that others may enjoy the sight and feel.
Turning away from the helicopter, I squirted by the old fire trucks avoiding the water that was still being sprayed for the amusement of a small army of children.
With the ringing of sirens and horns still in my ears I exited out the back gate another adventure in the books.
Drew Lane is a working writing student at Colorado State University-Pueblo and an avid outdoorsman. He shares his adventures weekly for The Pueblo West View.
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