West Chester Touch-A-Truck event features ‘sensory friendly’ hour

UPDATE (9 a.m. Friday)

***This event is canceled due to weather.***


West Chester Twp. has partnered with IKEA to bring Touch-A-Truck to a new location. The event is today.

“We like the opportunity to introduce families with young kids to the services provided in their community, and a good way to do that is sharing the cool trucks that help plow the streets, respond to your fire emergency, or the police officers who are coming to help,” said West Chester Spokeswoman Barb Wilson.

This event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today is outside of the Butler County IKEA store at 9500 Ikea Way. For a more “sensory friendly” experience, families may arrive up to an hour early at 10 a.m. to bypass the lights, horns and sirens. Participating vehicles will set up in the parking area adjacent to Muhlhauser Road. It is free and open to the public.

“Every kid loves to sit in the driver’s seat of one of these big trucks, and by doing that, we are showing the kids a great time and educating them about these kinds of services, but we are also sharing with their parents and families all of the things that we’re here to do as a government to support them in their lives,” Wilson said.

The event is typically conducted on a Friday afternoon. By doing the event on a weekday and during regular hours, the township avoids added costs that might occur if the event were to be held on a Saturday or in the evening. Often, many area preschools will bring groups of children to the event in addition to the families that turnout.

“The events and activities that the township works to provide are the things that are the building blocks to a great, interactive community. So, we encourage people to take advantage of them,” Wilson said.

As long as the events are well attended, and residents are enjoying them, then the township will find ways to offer a variety of programming to the community, she said.

“It’s a great time to spend time with your kids and your family,” Wilson said. “It’s a good opportunity to show families what the community is all about.”

Monica Dexter, community outreach coordinator for West Chester Twp. said about 20 vehicles are expected to be on site.

Participating vehicles will include West Chester Twp. police cruisers, a SWAT vehicle, Fire and EMS apparatus, community service trucks like a snowplow, street sweeper, or a mower, and more. MidPointe Library’s Bookmobile will be on site, and depending on emergencies, UC Health may bring their helicopter. Uniformed professionals will demonstrate how to operate the specialized vehicles, which assist members of the community and improve the daily quality of life in the community.

To accommodate the ongoing construction at the Residences at Clock Tower development, the move to the outdoor area at IKEA in 2022 is not far from the traditional location on The Square @ Union Centre. Due to COVID-19, the in-person event was last held in 2019. The event was converted to a virtual video series in 2020 and 2021. The township has been offering Touch-A-Truck since 2015. Up to several thousand guests have attended the event.

“With the active construction going on, and this event being geared toward kids, and going inside of big vehicles, we just didn’t want to have any safety concerns,” said Dexter. “IKEA partnered with us and agreed to host it in their parking lot, which is going to be a great venue for the event.”

Guests should plan to arrive early to pick up free Touch-A-Truck trading cards, stickers and other giveaways, while supplies last.

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