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Weather doesn't deter Columbia crowd at Tons of Trucks

Friday, April 3, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT
Columbia firefighter Gary Oliver, left, helps 5-year-old Owen Abney out of a firetruck at Tons of Trucks on Thursday at Cosmopolitan Park. Despite the cold rain, many still turned out to the event, which featured a wide assortment of municipal and service trucks.

COLUMBIA — Mother Nature simply won’t grant Tons of Trucks tolerable weather. It has rained the past four years at the annual event that lets Columbia kids see firetrucks and other service vehicles up close.

“Last year, there was freezing rain,” said Erin Carrillo, a city recreation specialist, just a few minutes into Thursday's event. “We still had about 2,000 visitors then and expect about the same this year.”

Despite temperatures dipping into the low 40s and a bitter, steady rain, hundreds of children showed up Thursday at Cosmopolitan Park with their parents and grandparents to see their favorite toys in life-size form.

Kids waited in line to climb into firetrucks from the Boone County Fire Protection District, patrol cars from the Boone County Sheriff's Department, a Daniel Boone Regional Library book truck and a Boone Quarries cement truck. A trawling boat called the Silver Bullet had the longest line of any of the approximately 50 vehicles on display.

Andy Plauck, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fisherman on the Silver Bullet, showed off the shovel-shaped nose of an Atlantic sturgeon to a group of toddlers, including John Harre, a 3-year-old in a puffy blue coat. John wasn’t amused for long before he rushed off to honk the horn of his favorite vehicle in the expansive lot — a firetruck.

“My son loves trucks of all kinds,” said John’s mother, Valerie Harre. “This is a really good experience for him.”

Another popular vehicle was the Public Works road grader, which is used to maintain gravel and remove snow, according to one operator, Greg Mabrey. 

“It has 15 levers. The kids love to pull on that stuff and act like they’re driving it,” Mabrey said, as 7-year-old Robert Hunter climbed into the driver’s seat and gripped one of the levers of what he said was his favorite truck.

Robert’s mother, Marie Hunter, said she has attended Tons of Trucks for six consecutive years because it’s so much fun for both her and her son. She described it as "a great community event,” and as she tightly grasped her umbrella, she said with a smile that the weather never deters her from Tons of Trucks.

“Well, this is typical Tons of Trucks weather,” Carrillo said through her scarf. “But this event is all about getting the little ones out to honk horns and see these cars up close.”

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