MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

April 28, 2013

Kids take to these wheels

MPL’s annual Touch-A-Truck introduces them to vehicles

By Travis Sloat
Phoenix Staff Writer

— When Carter McKinzie’s feet hit the tarmac Saturday morning, he was excited.

“Fire trucks!” the 2-year-old yelled as he took off toward them with his mom and dad in tow.

More than 50 vehicles, ranging from emergency services to race cars, lined a runway at Love-Hatbox Sports Complex on Saturday for the third annual Touch-A-Truck, put on by the Muskogee Public Library.

Francie Martin, the assistant stormwater compliance officer for the city of Muskogee, said she starts working on the event as soon as the current one is over.

“We send out the thank you cards, then check the pros and cons of the event,” Martin said. “Then, we send out the invites for the next year. This event is all about the children in our community. It lets them see what we have out here.”

The runway, which stays clear until the Civil Air Patrol airplane lands, was a buzz of activity and noise, with horns honking and sirens blaring so loudly that organizers pass out ear plugs at the front gate.

Harley Weller, 9, said he had lots of fun at the event.

“I love the big blue semi truck,” he said. “I love big trucks because my papa drives one, and I love the color blue because it’s my favorite.”

Harley was with Toni Jenkins, who said she had brought the entire family out to the event every year.

“We’re with Mudbug Motorsports, so we have some trucks here,” she said. “But the kids like coming out and getting in the trucks and tractors. We come out every year, and we’ll be back next year if they have it. I like it.”

Amid the flashing lights and brightly colored machines, two vehicles stood out in the crowd because of their unusual color: pink. The Muskogee Fire Department’s Engine No. 1 and Mid-Continent’s cement mixer were both present and pink in support of breast cancer awareness.

Martin said that she thought even though Touch-A-Truck is for kids, the adults have just as much fun.

“We try to bring anything and everything allowed out here,” she said. “These kids have dreams, and we can help them fulfill those dreams by putting them on a sanitation truck, a fire truck, or on a motorcycle.”

Martin also said she’s already planning next year’s event.

“It’ll be the last Saturday in April,” she said. “Hopefully the weather will be better and we can have a better turnout. We’ve had Air Evac out here previously, and they couldn’t come because of the weather.”

The weather did affect crowd participation early in the morning, but as the mist dried up more people came out to see all of the special vehicles the city of Muskogee uses.

C.R. Harris, the president of Extra Eyes, said it was his first year showing off the volunteer police cars.

“I think this is a nice event,” he said. “It’s good for the community. It gets the kids out, and it shows them everything we have in the city.”

Reach Travis Sloat at (918) 684-2908 or tsloat@muskogeephoenix.com.