PALM COAST, Fla. – Rolling out the big kid toys on Saturday, it looked like a heavy equipment convention in Central Park for the annual Touch-a-Truck event as government agencies and area businesses showcased their hardware.
Getting up close and personal with everything from trash haulers, cranes, and forklifts, to side-by-sides, towing equipment and even a school bus, kids from across Flagler County couldn’t get enough of the buttons and gadgets they were actually allowed to play with as part of the event.
“We are being overrun by curious residents who want to show their kids and themselves this wonderful equipment and learn the services that our fire department, our sheriff, our mosquito control, our utilities, all of the great services that keep our city humming,” said Palm Coast Mayor David Alfin.
“I’ve always been a believer that the way you govern is by collaborating so we are collaborating with all of our cities and the county, all in one place, at one time. Look what we can accomplish when we all work together,” he said.
First responders brought out the good stuff too, and the longest line was for the helicopter stationed front and center, and families took turns posing little ones in the cockpit. There was plenty of interest in the other equipment too, and Palm Coast Fire Chief Kyle Berryhill high fived young enthusiasts while posing for photos.
“What we want is our families, our seniors, our children of the community to be familiar with our fire trucks, to be a friendly presence, and for them to get to see what our tax dollars bring and what our capabilities are so they can feel safe and can do all the things that make life great here in Palm Coast,” said Berryhill.
“Our community loves, from what I can tell, they’ve always been so grateful every time one of our city employees does something,” he said of the support shown for the department by residents. “They’re really proud of Palm Coast and this is a chance for them to show that.”
The event’s popularity stems not only from the chance to interact with the equipment, but also provides a chance for kids to connect with potential future career opportunities.
Meeting with the City of Palm Coast’s new waste hauler, Noah Berry was decked out in his personal safety gear, checking out the truck and helping with the recycling bin.
Mom, Jessica Berry says he loves when it’s trash day at home.
“We came just for the garbage trucks. He friends with all the garbage men in our neighborhood, and he has little recycle bins at home. We play garbage trucks all day long, every day,” she said.
“It is super important (to have this event). It gives kids a chance to ask questions and see the equipment that the different jobs work with. The event’s amazing, the kids have a blast and the parents have even more fun,” said Berry.
For Jake Biermann, general manager for FCC Environmental’s Daytona and Palm Coast area, it was a chance for them to meet the community ahead of their scheduled service start date on June 1.
“We are ecstatic to be here. We’ve got 29 new drivers on site, we have 34 new trucks, rear loads for the city, we’re working with a couple of partners to get some helpers and things like that going, and we can’t wait to get started,” he said.
Servicing unincorporated Volusia and now adding the Palm Coast routes, Biermann says they’ve doubled in size going from 40 routes to 75, and are on the look out for those interested in a new career path.
“We’re hiring anybody with a CDL Class B or A, and obviously then labor, helpers. You must be 18 or older for the helper side and driver’s side, have that CDL,” he said.
Accompanied by wife Debbie and their family’s tiny furry friend, Flagler Sheriff Rick Staly talked with attendees who stopped to say hello and check out the agency’s fleet of vehicles.
“This is a great free community event. You can already see, we just started 15 minutes ago and the crowds are here,” said Staly. “Everybody loves a free event but when you tie the family in and kids, and the kids get to play with trucks and stuff they get to see but have never been in them before, it’s just a great event.”