Words by Allison Kami, Images by Allyson Collins
Science may never give us an authoritative answer to whether children’s love of trucks is a nature or nurture deal. What exactly is it about a garbage truck coming down the street or a fire engine’s siren that makes a preschooler lose what little self-control he or she possesses? However children come by this obsession, it was a genius move by Explorium Denton to make it the basis for their big annual fundraiser. March 4th at the C.H. Collins parking lot was the 3rd annual Touch a Truck event, a veritable paradise of large machinery for kids. And let’s be honest, a lot of the parents were digging it too. The excitement of children is contagious.
Explorium Denton, founded in May 2012 by Anyah Martinez, offers on-location Traveling Programs for education centers and hopes to open a physical Denton children’s museum this year. Their hands-on exhibits and programs aim to connect children with science, math, and the arts through exploration. The organization also donates 10% of the Touch a Truck proceeds to the Denton Public School Foundation for scholarships.
For a suggested $2 donation per person, attendees could climb on a (parked) Huey helicopter, smear paint on a big white Frenchy’s truck, and honk the horns of the trucks of their choice ad nauseam. And in a compassionate move on the behalf of special needs families, they offered a “quiet hour” before the general opening of the event that catered to children with sensory issues. With firefighters, police officers, farmers, and many other professions represented, children had a chance to mingle with their heroes and have their questions answered.
With around 3,000 people in attendance, there were some pretty lengthy lines depending on the popularity of the vehicle. Ironically, one of the longest lines was composed of preschool kids waiting excitedly to get on a Denton ISD school bus. Don’t worry, kiddos; your disillusionment is coming. And for those who grew tired of waiting in the substantial line for a turn in the Huey, the wait for free samples of Beth Marie’s ice cream was comparatively short thanks to a brisk wind and thick cloud cover. For kids who were over the whole truck thing, there was a play area with Big Blue Blocks from Imagination Playground and a choice of food trucks to hit up for lunch.
Don’t want to wait until next year to support Explorium Denton? They are always accepting donations through their website or by mail. They also have another event, A Night Under the Stars, planned for Saturday, May 6th at the UNT Rafes Urban Astronomy Center.