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Dream big: Hands-on learning for little ones during Big Vehicle Day

Echo Press photo by Raeshel Betterman Jack Johnson was excited about the chance to get behind the wheel of a fire truck during Big Vehicle Day.1 / 4
Echo Press photo by Raeshel Betterman Aidan Halvorson, with help from Shawn Klingbiel, had a chance to see how the remote control device worked for a cement truck.2 / 4
Echo Press photo by Raeshel Betterman Lauren Krebs (above) got a feel for what it would be like driving a plow.3 / 4
Echo Press photo by Raeshel Betterman Wyatt Krebs (right) looks like he'd be a natural at operating a Zamboni - if he could just reach the foot pedals.4 / 4

It's an irresistible combination: little kids and big vehicles.

And it's one that's been attracting hundreds of kids in Alexandria for 18 years.

The Early Childhood Family Education's annual "Big Vehicle Day" took place Saturday at the Douglas County Fairgrounds.

Between 350 and 400 people attended the event, including more than 150 children.

They enjoyed getting an up-close look at all kinds of vehicles - fire trucks, police and sheriff cars, a snowplow, school bus, garbage truck, cement mixer, Alexandria Light and Power's drill truck, a Zamboni, semi-trailer, a boat, a go-cart and more.

"It was a really great turnout - even with the rainy weather," said Connie Good, ECFE director. "It's fun for the kids to get up close with all the vehicles."

The vehicles and equipment were donated by the city, county, school, Alexandria Technical and Community College, or businesses that operate them.

Anyone who is interested in displaying a vehicle in the future should contact Good at (320) 762-3305. Requests will go through the ECFE Advisory Council.

Families pay $5 to attend the event, which benefits the ECFE.

This year's event raised about $415, which was good considering that the silent auction part of the fundraiser was postponed because of the weather, Good said. The auction will likely take place during the ECFE's Halloween Fun Party next month.

The ECFE stresses safety throughout Big Vehicle Day. All the displays are manned and children must be accompanied by adults.

Although the ECFE recommends that families attending Big Vehicle Day have at least one child in early childhood (age 5 or younger), parents seem to get a kick out of the event as well.

"I don't know who enjoys it more sometimes - the dads or the kids," Good said.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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