While it predates Newton Parents as Teachers representative Brittany Denson's time with the program, there is one event the group puts on that always seems to be popular — and not just locally, but across the entire state — and it is getting ready to bring back, with this year's Touch-a-Truck night scheduled for Sept. 21 at Centennial Park.
"Our goal for the event is just to provide an opportunity for families, specifically with young children, to get to experience different trucks and vehicles up close and hopefully connect them to things that they might be seeing in their community," Denson said. "I think the draw for young children is that they hear and see these vehicles around their community, but often just in passing, so it's giving them the opportunity to get up close."
Along with the change in venue this year, Denson noted PAT is trying to recruit a few new vehicles to make an appearance. So far, Denson noted Newton Fire/EMS and the city have committed to bringing trucks (fire, recycling, etc.) to the event and the organization is working to secure more participation. Denson has her fingers crossed the group may be able to get a racecar out for the event as well as some farm equipment — though she said the crowd favorite is usually pretty clear.
"The firetrucks are always a big hit, I think partially because they make a lot of noise when people see them going down the street," Denson said. "To get to experience that up close is fun."
Despite not being an event put on every year, Denson said in the two years the current PAT team has organized the Touch-a-Truck night it has gone over pretty well. Last year, Denson estimated there were between 200 to 250 people who turned up for the event.
Newton families have been fairly receptive to the idea, which is a positive overall as Denson said the goal of the Touch-a-Truck night is to reach out to the community and allow families a fun, educational outlet.
"Part of our program design is to help families get involved in their community and make that connection, so for us it's just a great opportunity to bring people together and expand learning for the children that we work with," Denson said. "I think the feedback was just that a lot of families were thankful for the opportunity to have kind of all those things in one space and have a family outing to go to."
Given the change of venue this year (with more space and greater ease of access), Denson said she is hoping even more families will come out for Touch-a-Truck night in 2018. The event will be going on from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Sept. 21 at Centennial Park in the north parking lot by the baseball diamonds.