More than 300 children and adults from 95 young families participated in the 11th annual Big Truck Night Oct. 8 at the Hillsboro Elemen?tary School.
The county-wide event originally was scheduled for Sept. 19, but was postponed because of weather.
Some 12 large vehicles and machines?including a farm combine?provided by area businesses and public entities surrounded the circle drive on the south side of the school.
In addition to exploring the vehicles, several activity stations?ranging from a pair of huge tires for climbing, to a plastic swimming pool with dozens of plastic balls?engaged the attention of the children.
Inside Gordon Mohn Com?munity Center, participants could enjoy free popcorn provided by Hills?boro High School, and parents could talk to representatives from the various agencies in the county that address the interests of families with children age birth through 5 years.
The evening of fun and information was launched in 2003 as a project of the Parents as Teachers organization, but is now sponsored by the county?s Early Childhood Task Force.
?The purpose now is that it would provide a fun family environment and experience for children and families to explore together,? said Lori Soo Hoo, PAT director.
?Children have a natural curiosity about things that move. It provides an opportunity and avenue for that in a safe way.?
Informational opportunities for parents is another key thrust, Soo Hoo said.
?Our hope is that while families are waiting in line for food, they have an opportunity to explore the resources that are available for families?everything from what?s offered at the health department, to the Learning Center, to Families and Communities Together, the Head Start preschool opportunities within our districts, and Parents as Teachers,? she said.
?This year we also had Prairie Land Food come for the first time to showcase the Prairie Paks that are available for families.?
Prairie Paks provide an assortment of frozen meats and seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables at discounted prices.
Another first-year participant, the Marion County Health Department, dispensed 18 flu mist vaccinations for children.
Soo Hoo said Big Truck Night is a cooperative venture that requires a variety of contributors.
?We could not do Big Truck Night without the faithful support of the entire Early Childhood Task Force, the entire support of sponsors that graciously provide their vehicles and time otherwise spent with family, and also the resource sponsors,? she said.
She estimated 25 to 40 professionals were involved.
?It?s really all those volunteers and the hearts of the people of Marion County that make his event successful.?
Soo Hoo said organizers also are ?very thankful? to the city of Hillsboro for providing law enforcement and the barricading the area to ensure a safe environment.
?They distributed 150 Ident-A-Kid and DNA kits so families can have the opportunity to increase safety for their child,? she added.