Mason Roper is a truck buff, as much as 3 1⁄2-year-olds can be, with a collection of dozens of toy replicas at his North Bellmore home, his mother, Joyia Roper, said.
But that did little to prepare him for his turn behind the wheel of a massive, stationary freight hauler at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow on Saturday morning.
As hundreds of other children and parents clambered into and out of bulldozers and garbage trucks, Mason stared dumbstruck at the vast panel of gauges and levers in front of him. Overwhelmed, he smiled sheepishly at his mother and grandmother, then held out his arms to be taken down.
Mason didn’t honk the horn, but plenty of others did at the noisy “Touch-a-Truck” event, which organizers expected to attract more than 10,000 Long Islanders — many recently out of diapers — to come marvel up close at the dozens of vehicles on display.
The event is a rare occurrence “when your parents don’t tell you to get away from something, they tell you to get closer to it,” said Jason Steinberg of radio station WBAB, which organized the event with WBLI and Nassau County.
The largest trucks — such as an East Meadow fire engine, its crane extended to the sky — drew the most young admirers.
But some of the more prosaic vehicles are also usually hits, Steinberg said, such as the surprisingly popular UPS truck.
“Believe it or not, her favorite truck is the brown truck,” said Traci, who declined to give her last name, about daughter Maya, 5.
The pair came specifically for their turn in the UPS van, a source of deep fascination for the young girl, according to her mother.
“She’d be happy leaving now,” Traci said of her daughter, now that the pair had seen it.
“But I want to see the race car,” the mother added.