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By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter
The sky was gloomy, but the mood was cheery on August 7 at Needham’s Memorial Park, as kids of all ages took turns in the driver’s seat of a variety of trucks. The Touch-A-Truck event, sponsored by the Needham Free Public Library, brought a Needham Police Department cruiser, a Needham Fire Department engine, and several of the town’s Department of Public Works trucks and construction vehicles for children to explore.
With a total of ten trucks to see and sit in, the most popular were the fire truck and the police cruiser, attended by NFD firefighter Nick Ceurvels and Needham police officer Catherine McCullough, respectively. Ceurvels helped hoist children up into the driver’s seat of the truck, allowing them to turn to steering wheel and envision themselves as firefighters. Not too long after, he helped the children climb down from the massive engine, giving them a high five before they left to explore the other trucks. For the ones who couldn’t get enough of Needham’s fire engine at the event, they sat on top of the shiny, chrome front bumper, playing with the hose and other fire apparatus.Meanwhile, Officer McCullough took the passenger seat of her cruiser as she invited kids to sit in the driver’s seat and others to climb in back. She gave a police department badge sticker to each child who sat behind the wheel. “Do you know where you put the badge?” McCullough asked. “Over your heart to protect your heart,” she continued, helping them to place the sticker. McCullough also gave children the opportunity to put on the sirens and lights, and say something over the speaker. One boy flattered his mom by announcing, “I love you, Mom” over the speaker for the entire park to hear. McCullough even showed the kids where she places her laptop in the cruiser. As she turned on the interior light, she asked, “Do you know why it’s red? Have you ever turned a light on and it hurts your eyes at first? So ours is red so that we can write our reports here in the dark.”
In some of the other trucks, children replicated the sounds of rush-hour traffic as they started a honking competition. Although some were startled when the horn honked as they walked past the front of the truck, one couldn’t help but laugh as the kids beeped to each other from different trucks.
Many of the younger children at the Touch-A-Truck took refuge from the honking horns in the rims of the tires on the construction vehicles and sat in one truck’s plow.
Not only did the Touch-A-Truck event bring smiles and laughs to children and adults, but it also provided them with an opportunity to better appreciate the town’s municipal workforce and the trucks they operate every day.