Touch-a-Truck combines education and fun

Port Hueneme – Area residents flocked to Hueneme Beach on Saturday, October 1, as the premiere of the Touch-a-Truck brought many children and parents to the free event.

JHE The event featured lots of trucks for kids to touch, honk their horns and sit in the driver’s seat as they learn about each vehicle, what they do and why they are vital to every community.

Port Hueneme Town Recreation Coordinator Taylor Penny was delighted with the great turnout.

“It’s the first time we’ve done this,” she said. “I’ve been working really hard for the last five months on this, and it’s great to see all these people out on a nice Saturday afternoon.”

She likes all trucks but thinks the crane is pretty cool, as well as SWAT vehicles.

“Children have a chance to come in and learn and fill that gap where they think the police are scary, but the police are there to help and protect you,” she said. “There are a lot of street learning opportunities here with different career opportunities; firefighters, police, school bus, crane operators, semiconductors. It’s a great opportunity for kids to see their favorite trucks and learn, maybe, what they want to be when they grow up.

The afternoon also had an interactive petting zoo which the kids enjoyed, as well as lots of food trucks. Parents waved and took photos of their children enjoying the day.

City Manager Brick Conners called Touch-a-Truck a phenomenal event.

“Our newest recreation coordinator created this theme,” he said. “I knew it would be an instant hit because kids love this stuff. We had high expectations and I couldn’t be happier with the turnout, coordination and involvement of not only city departments but the county as well.

Growing up, he was drawn to airplanes.

“I’ve always been fascinated by big construction equipment,” he says. “They actually allowed me to move a micro digger in its place this morning, so I had the opportunity to participate a bit.”

Corporal Mike Wood of the Oxnard Police Department Traffic Unit brought his BMW police motorcycle.

“We are excited here in Hueneme Beach for the Touch a Truck event,” he said. “We have trucks here, motorcycles, ambulances and emergency personnel. We promote safety, and the traffic unit promotes safe cycling and teaches people the rules of the road.

He said the department uses BMW 1200 and 1250 RT police motorcycles exclusively. “Our bikes are very authentic, and a lot of law enforcement

Agencies in Southern California are looking to this type of motorcycle,” Wood said. “Our motorcycles have high visibility LED lights and are more visible when trying to make a friend.”

He noted that the bikes are distinct and have two sirens.

“The big thing we’re reminding the public of, one of the new laws, is to pull over for emergency vehicles when they see the lights,” he said. “My bike has Lidar, which is a laser unit to measure someone’s speed. Radars are still used, but we mainly use a laser unit to get a more accurate reading.

He said the OPD uses electronic citations and is one of the few agencies to use electronic citations.

“This is funded by the traffic safety office,” he said. “It’s fun to ride.”

He said the bike has a lot of power and handling, so it’s matched.

“It depends on the pilot,” he said. “These bikes have linkage brakes, which allows for more controlled braking. The all-new bikes stop in an even shorter distance, so it’s nice to see the bikes keeping pace with overall safety and rider confidence.

He enjoys interacting with children and showing them that they are on their side.

“In the late ’80s, I sat in a patrol car for the Ventura Police Department car wash,” he said. “A simple two-second interaction changed my life, guided my career path, and opened my eyes to being accessible, which is one of my personal goals. One of our goals with the traffic unit is to engage with the public at these events.”

Logan Crossett brought his kids, Silas and Addison, who enjoyed the big tractor with a hook and sounded the horn.

“It’s a lot of fun hanging out with the kids,” Logan said. “They idolize these people. It’s cool to go out and touch everything.

Growing up, Logan said he loved big rigs.

“All children have an interest in a tractor,” he said. “I am a project manager for a construction company. We don’t deal in tractors; we handle federal construction contracts.

Port Hueneme Solid Waste Coordinator Rick Cervantes brought a residential sideloader for recycling and a dump truck for large commercial dumpsters.

“Kids are intrigued by the vehicles themselves,” he said. “They’re happy to get in the cabin, honk their horns and watch the controls.”

He said the first step in a career in solid waste is to get a commercial driver’s license because you can’t drive a solid waste truck without one.

“I had the opportunity early on to train with some of the veteran drivers,” Cervantes said. “They taught me a lot about hydraulics, how they maneuver and reversing. I went to truck driving school to get my license.

He said learning how to grab a trash can and throw it into a truck has a long learning curve.

“Experience is everything, but it takes a few years to get really good,” he said. “It comes with time behind the wheel.”

He enjoys being part of a small town in Port Hueneme and talking with residents and business owners.

“It’s being involved with them, answering questions and always having a smile on your face,” he said. “We have a good solid team here.”

Hayley is a 13-year-old diabetic service dog, but she loved going to the Touch-a-Truck event with her mom and dad, Sharie and John Legler.

“I’m having a great time and it’s a lot of fun,” Sharie said. “I wish they publicized it more. I only found this because I found a sign.

John said Hayley loved the petting zoo.

She loves all the cattle there,” John said.

Sharie was drawn to the big truck with the bed behind it.

“It would be so much fun,” she said. “You drive around the country, then go to sleep and immediately come out and park on the side of the freeway.”

John loves police SWAT vehicles.

“They’re very intriguing how they design them,” he said. “They look pretty mean, don’t they?” This is not your base Volkswagen Bug.

Port Hueneme’s next recreational event is the Halloween Spooktacular at the Community Center from 5-8:30pm on October 20.

The event will include a free pumpkin patch, train ride, hay mazes, and candy.

For more information, visit ci.porthuneme.ca.us.

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