Touch a Truck event invites Manatee children to explore big trucks, local libraries

A cacophony of sound invaded downtown Bradenton once again Saturday afternoon as Manatee Libraries hosted its fifth annual Touch a Truck event.

Local children and their parents were welcome to visit the Central Library, 1301 First Ave. W., to interact with 12 different trucks and service vehicles. The program has been a huge hit, drawing hundreds each year, and this iteration was no different, organizers said.

Glenda Lammers, the interim library manager, said a lot goes into preparing for the event every year, but the result is worth it every time.

“It’s something we really want to do for the kids, but not only does it bring kids to the library, it brings their parents,” she said. “A lot of times, the parents haven’t come to the library or the kids haven’t been to the library, so it’s a good opportunity for families to come into the library and check out what we offer and that kind of thing.”

New parents Stephanie and John McDonald said their 1-year-old son, Nolan, enjoyed his first chance to play in the real versions of cars he plays with at home.

“He screams at all the trucks we pass when we’re in the car and he’s got a thousand of these at home, so this was really, really nice for him,” Stephanie said.

Megan Fisher also brought her four daughters to play in the vehicles. Three of them climbed into the cab of a Manatee County Search and Rescue truck while her 7-month-old baby watched from her arms.

Her older kids, however, 5-year-old twins Haileigh and Ryleigh and 7-year-old Maddison, said that was their favorite truck. Fisher noted that they would also poke around in the library during their visit.

Lammers encourages everyone to explore the library, which offers more than one might think. Fishing poles, telescopes, cake pans and binoculars are just some of the items available to rent for free with a library card, she explained.

But with the vehicles from the Bradenton Police Department, Manatee County Government and the U.S. Army National Guard, there was plenty to see outside, as well. One of the most popular was an M1097 Avenger that could be operated with a remote control.

Specialist Donald Anderson, who also volunteered at last year’s Touch a Truck, demonstrated how the vehicle functions and how it would be used in combat to fire Stinger missiles. The event also gives children a chance to ask their role models about their jobs.

“I’ve had a lot of kids ask me questions about the Army and how I like it,” Anderson said. “I’m always happy to answer those.”

While Touch a Truck has proven to be a popular event, it caught some library visitors off guard, but they still had a great time. Mary Avery was making a routine visit to the library when she discovered the crowd.

“It’s a really good idea,” Avery said. “My son is 25 now, but if they were doing this when he was younger, I definitely would’ve taken him to get involved in the library. It’s wonderful.”

For more information regarding Manatee Libraries, visit the library’s section on the county website at mymanatee.org.