LARGO — Police vehicles and fire trucks zip by, sirens blaring. Big trucks rumble down streets. Ambulances rush to accident victims, and overhead, Bayflite transports injured people.
Each day trucks and other vehicles aid in saving lives and transporting goods that people need. Yet it's not every day that people can touch one of them.
On Saturday, they can, at the 18th annual city of Largo Touch-a-Truck and Florida Clown Day at Largo Central Park.
"This is a free, family-friendly event geared to children 12 and under," said Jessica Newsome, Largo's special events coordinator. "We haven't had the Coast Guard there in a couple of years. They'll be towing in one of their boats and that will be a neat addition."
Check out the Largo Police Department's vehicles and the city's fire trucks, too, along with garbage and wastewater trucks. Sunstar ambulances will be on display, as will tow trucks and a limousine.
Between 12,000 and 15,000 people attended Touch-a-Truck and Florida Clown Day last year, according to Newsome. Around the same number is expected this Saturday.
Paired up with Touch-a-Truck is Florida Clown Day, sponsored by Uptown Clown Alley. There will be lots of clowning around when 100 clowns from across Florida show up to put smiles on the faces of children and adults. A variety of free children's activities, from balloon animal creations to temporary tattoos, will be available. Face painting is free, but donations will be accepted in a tip jar.
Children can bounce around in four different inflatables or take a ride on a rocket ship car for the cost of a $5 wristband. Largo Central Park's miniature train rides are free, but donations are accepted.
Food will be available for purchase at a food court in the middle of the park.
A new addition this year, and also free, is the first Community Business Expo. Fifty-one businesses of all sizes, the majority of them local, will be showcased. According to Largo's Recreation, Parks and Arts Department's recreation program planner, Christina Heubel, the expo will give the community an opportunity to learn about businesses and services they might not realize exist in the surrounding area. Nothing will be sold at the expo.
"We're giving small and large businesses in our area an opportunity for exposure through this large event," said Heubel. "We're excited about the variety of family-friendly vendors participating. Our own instructors will be on hand to promote their programs within the recreation department. It will be a nice mix of vendors."
Largo Central Park will be the place for family fun Saturday, but Largo's Touch-a-Truck can also be a learning experience about the role trucks and other vehicles play in society.
"One cool addition this year is we'll have the Red Cross disaster relief vehicle — the Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV)," said Newsome. "People can see how the Red Cross provides relief and what type of vehicle they use in disasters, since I was told the ERV has just returned from the Northeast helping the victims of Hurricane Sandy."