Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Since 1999, the Town of Herndon and the Department of Public Works (DPW) has hosted their very popular Big Truck Days, and 2018 was no exception. On Thursday, May 3 and Friday, May 4, parents, grandparents and teachers descended upon the Herndon Public Works Complex at 1418 Sterling Road with their little ones in tow. Attendees began arriving shortly after 9 a.m. and came from the surrounding communities with some coming from as far as Arlington, Manassas and Leesburg.
Visitors young and old were there to see, touch, and even better, climb on board the monster equipment that keeps the Town of Herndon clean, safe and moving, but not before members of the DPW staff greeted each visitor individually and passed out pink and yellow plastic construction hats and tattoos to the children.
Whether the monster machines were meant to haul big loads like the trash trucks or if they were needed to push a megaton of snow, it made no difference to the staff at DPW who got to show off the equipment to the children and parents and explain how they helped keep Herndon ready to roll.
The men and women of DPW encouraged the children as well as the parents to climb up in the big rigs and try them out. "Check out the view from up there." "Beep the horn." “Go ahead, turn that steering wheel."
Roséya Underhill, 5, of Reston readily scaled the steep metal stairs to one of the front loaders. She sat in the driver's seat. "I know how to drive this," Underhill said with conviction. "First you turn the wheel. If it's a red light, you turn on the brake. If you want to go a wee bit faster, you push on this," she said as she stretched to reach the gas pedal.
Bill Smith is the General Services Administrator for the Department of Public Works. In an interview, Smith told how the annual event originated nineteen years ago. Before the institution of Big Truck Days, he said that the Department would get multiple requests on a monthly basis to bring a couple of the big rigs to preschools or youth gatherings. As the town grew, so did the number of monthly requests. "So we thought, why don't we do it all at one given time, and do it up big."
Asked what he liked about Big Truck Days, Smith had a quick reply. "I like going out there and seeing all the children’s faces while they're driving the equipment."
DPW staff took turns strolling around the parking lot and stood ready to answer the questions by children and their parents. "What does this do?" "Where does the trash go?" "Do you push snow at night?" "Do you sleep here?"
Besides the big trucks, there was an activity area where children could control a stop light by pushing a button to change its colors and a set of pedestrian signals set out for them to learn first-hand how to cross a street properly. A Herndon Police cruiser stopped by for a welcome visit and was enthusiastically greeted by the children.
Interviewed toward the end of the event on Day 2, Smith reported that although the hot weather did affect visitor attendance levels, he believed an estimated 800 people attended the fun-filled community event.