Durham County

Kids delighted to play with emergency, law enforcement and city vehicles at Junior League Touch-A-Truck event

Ethan Devoe, 1, plays on a firetruck at the Junior League of Durham and Orange Counties' fifth annual Touch-A-Truck event Saturday.
Ethan Devoe, 1, plays on a firetruck at the Junior League of Durham and Orange Counties' fifth annual Touch-A-Truck event Saturday. The Herald-Sun

A delighted 16-month-old Ethan Devoe touched a firetruck.

And that was exactly, what he was supposed to do at the Junior League of Durham and Orange Counties' fifth annual Touch-A-Truck event held in the Belk parking lot at The Streets at Southpoint Saturday.

The Touch-A-Truck event is all about reaching out, pressing fingers on and touching — trucks.

Kids dashed toward the red of a Durham Fire Department fire truck as sirens sounded.

Swiveling emergency lights flared and danced over onlookers’ faces.

Toddlers pulled parents to police patrol prowlers. Fingers were sticky — melting Locopops made little hands an adventure.

Attendance surpassed last last-year's total of some 2,000, setting a new mark of some 2,400 for the annual event said JLDOC president Jessica Dedrick and President-elect Lisa Johnson.

“The weather is great this year, which is good and a big plus,” Dedrick said. “The kids are always excited about wanting to come and every year we've gotten the word out more and more.”

“We put ads in the all the local newspapers and used social media. A lot of mom blogs,” Johnson added. “We went online and off.”

“The drivers of the city trucks come back every year. They love to volunteer with us. We treat them well,” Dedrick said. “We feed them. Which doesn't happen at every Touch-A-Truck event. We feed them pizza ...”

“Lunch and breakfast, coffee, snakes,” Johnson added.

“We'll see drivers around town and they'll recognize us,” Dedrick said. “They'll say, 'Look, there are the Junior League girls.'”

The Junior League officials said this year's most popular new attraction was the landing of the Duke Health Care Life Light helicopter which touched down in the middle of the event space at 9:45 a.m., drew a lengthy line of kids waiting their turn to toggle its pilot’s stick.

“The adults actually wanted to see that one. They were crowding the landing zone to take pictures and we had to tell them to move back,” Johnson said. “I wanted to see it, but, there was was a really long and limited time. I couldn't take a spot away from a kid. That would've been ugly.”

The helicopter took off and flew away at around 12:30 p.m.

There was a two-way tie for second place in the unofficial popularity contest among vehicles on display. A GoDurham city bus and two waste management vehicles produced gaggles of fascinated, youthful wide-eyes.

“I don't understand it ...” Johnson said, “... but kids love garbage trucks.”

Bulky Services Supervisor for Durham Solid Waste Management Aaron Johnson knew why.

“We're the most frequently seen,” he said. “We visit their homes at least once a week. When we visit houses, there are always kids peeking out the window, watching. A lot of parents have to try to get their kids to school on time because their kids want to wait in the morning until they can see our trucks come.”

Aaron Johnson helped Keelan Brown Jr., 4, up and into a garbage truck's driver seat. Keelan hit the center of its steering wheel, hoping for a beep.

“Up there,” Aaron Johnson said, pointing to a wire looping down from the truck's ceiling. “Pull that, up there.”

The little boy pulled it. His desired beep ended up being more than just a “beep.”


Startled, Keelan flinched.

“Can I do it again?” Keelan asked.

“Yes,” said his father, Keelan Sr.


“One more time?” Keelan pleaded.

“One more time,” Brown Sr. said.


Colin Warren-Hicks: 919-419-6636, @CWarrenHicks