Families from Santa Clarita and beyond attend annual Touch-a-Truck at Central Park

Richard Morris holds up Ian Morris , 2, to get a close up look at a Los Angels County Fire dozer at the annual Touch A Truck event held at Central Park in Saugus on Saturday, October 13, 2018. (Photo by Dan Watson)

Smiles were in abundance as families made the trip to Touch-a-Truck at Central Park, hosted by the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center on Saturday.

The annual event allows for children to get up close and personal with various vehicles, each of which perform different tasks. From Waste Management’s garbage trucks to the California Highway Patrol cars, sirens and horns blared whenever children were behind the wheel.

Bringing the multitude of vehicles to the community serves as a way to give back and support something that is family oriented, said Jennifer DeHaven, the Senior Center’s operations coordinator.

Engineer David Celaya brought small children around the back of Angeles Engine 17, one of the vehicles on display from the Angeles National Forest.

“This is awesome,” Celaya said of the event. “It’s really great, especially for the kids and the people who are, I guess, not quite familiar either with the Forest Service or with the fire departments or agencies. They get to see, touch, feel, crawl around in what we actually do and how it all works, and how we work with our counterparts.”

Nearby, children climbed aboard a first responder’s ambulance.

“This is a very special ambulance,” said Chris Hernandez, EMT manager for the critical care and transport department at the UCLA Medical Center. “And this ambulance is unique in that it’s the first of its kind on the West Coast and this is a mobile stroke ambulance.”

The ambulance can help patients with the use of a mobile CT scanner platform within a certain time frame, determining where bleeding and clots are, Hernandez said.

“So being able to come out here and talk to kids and let them know, ‘Hey, we’re out here to help. We have this machine, it’s cool, it can scan your brain, we’re able to get you medicine to fix it,’” he said. “That’s something that, I think, is extremely valuable to be able to share that with the public.”

Other vehicles that were present included a bus and trolley from the city of Santa Clarita, an ice cream truck, Wescom Credit Union’s mobile bank, various fire vehicles from fire engines to bulldozers and the famous beachball dump truck. Standing behind the truck, beachballs fell upon a crowd of small children who waited to grab a ball for themselves.

For Rob Smith and his family, Touch-a-Truck surpassed his expectations, he said. Stopping by from Los Angeles to visit friends who are residents, Smith didn’t know what to expect.

“Obviously, we’re from England, so just any American vehicle is just amazing and the trucks are the epitome of American autos, in our opinion,” he said.

While it was exciting to look inside the police vehicles, Smith was surprised by his children’s favorite part of the event.

The “surprise hit was the bus, because that has the biggest play area inside the vehicle,” he said. “So that was about 10 minutes of entertainment just getting on and off of that.”

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