May 16, 2010
METHUEN — All that was missing from the Methuen YMCA's "Touch-a-Truck" event yesterday was a helicopter, or maybe a hot-air balloon.
But it's not like they didn't try to get them.
"We started calling around, and just about everyone not only said 'Yes,' but they gave other ideas for people to call," said Grace Cruz, assistant director of the Methuen YMCA's preschool program. "I can't believe how many people and vehicles showed up. It just sort of took off. We even tried to get a hot-air balloon and a helicopter, but we ran out of time."
Hundreds of parents and kids mobbed the school's grounds, scrambling among dozens of massive construction vehicles, bucket and tow trucks, police cars, fire engines, ambulances, Hummers and buses.
All the while, horns blared, sirens screeched and lights flashed.
Kyle Blanchette of Methuen, age "7-and-three-quarters," said his favorite was the mail truck — for no particular reason, he added.
"But I like to ride the big ones," Kyle said from the cockpit of a hulking Furukawa backhoe.
Police and firefighters were out in force, chatting with children and demonstrating their equipment. They gave tours of fire engines and police cruisers and sprayed water from a hose.
Also popular were two large inflatable bouncy amusement rides filled with kids, and an ice cream truck serving shaved and flavored ice.
Inside the Haverhill Street building, children waited in line with their parents to be fingerprinted and videotaped and to get their cheeks swabbed as part of a free identification kit.
"This is the main reason we came," said Connie O'Rorke of Methuen, her sons Jeremy, 3, and Matthew, 5, in tow. "It's makes us feel a little safer to have something like this. These days, every parent should have it. Of course, the kids just want to go outside and play and ride the trucks."
The identification program was provided by the John Hancock Lodge A.F. & A.M. and sponsored by the Masons of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Crime Prevention Officers Association, and the Massachusetts Dental Association.
From the Eagle-Tribune