Up close with trucks in downtown Topeka


On Saturday, Sept. 2 downtown Topeka hosted its fifth annual ‘Touch a Truck’ event. From 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. families brought their children and had the opportunity to explore vehicles from all over Topeka for free. 

Over 40 vehicles on display, attendees were able to see everything from cranes to ambulances to city buses.

“It’s grown every year,” said Vince Frye, President and CEO of Downtown Topeka Inc., “The exciting part is to see all these young kids and their families. Just to hear the horns honking and the sirens going off is exciting- the kids really love it.”

Streets were closed off and secured for the event, and at the ends of both 8th Street and 10th Street, volunteers passed out the Touch a Truck Passports, papers which were used to get the children more involved. At each vehicle, children could get their passports signed, and once they reached twenty signatures they received a free event T-shirt.

“I think it’s an awesome opportunity for the kids, just to go look at the trucks,” said volunteer Bri Vaughan. “It’s a great way to get them involved in a fun activity!”

Along with the vehicle displays, multiple local businesses set up small tents to support the event.

“I’m here with CoreFirst Bank, just participating in this downtown event,” said Garry Cushinberry, senior vice president of community relations at CoreFirst. “Anything we, as a bank, can do to support downtown Topeka, we’re all in. We are just trying to do our part. Of course, being bankers, we don’t have big trucks and stuff, so we had to manufacture some toy trucks to give away at our table.”

Not only was this event used to support the resurgence of downtown Topeka, it was also used to showcase some of the unique attractions available to its residents. The Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library brought both of their buses to bring more awareness to their programs.

“Our ‘Learn and Play Bus’ is a preschool vehicle that goes around Shawnee County giving kids the experience of story time, free-play, and getting along with other kids from the community,” said Aileen Finney, public services specialist. “We also brought our bookmobile that we check out books, movies, and other items in- it’s kind of a mini-library on wheels. We’re really here so more people can learn about what our library offers.”

While the event was geared toward children, participants of any age could take part in the festivities.

“I think it’s wonderful, I just wish I had my grandkids to come with,” said Judy Craig, Topeka resident. “I read about it in the paper and I thought ‘I gotta see that!’ I’ve been intrigued by these big hoister cranes- I figured I’d meander through and take some nice pictures.”

As the event wound down and families went back home, the streets slowly started to clear. The trucks and equipment left as the Touch a Truck event came to an end.

“Just to see thousands of kids and parents having so much fun is the great part of it for me,” said Frye, “We wanted people to come downtown and enjoy it, and this is what’s it’s all about.”