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Kids get into gear at Touch-a-Truck event at Eisenhower Park

Four-year-old Austin Simco sits inside an ESU water

Four-year-old Austin Simco sits inside an ESU water rescue truck as his father, Steven Simco, and brother, 10-month-old Dylan, watch at the "Touch-A-Truck" event at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow. Credit: Kristy Leibowitz

Sirens and horns pierced the spring air as emergency lights flashed at Eisenhower Park Saturday -- to the delight of throngs of children and parents who came for the show.

"There's nothing that makes him happier," said Erin Simco, 35, as her son Austin, 4, climbed into a Nassau County Police Department rescue Humvee. "He's at a good age to start pretending he's a police officer or a soldier."

Austin agreed. "The gears are kind of cool," he said.

The heavy-duty vehicles were part of an event called Touch-a-Truck and included firetrucks, armored trucks and a hostage negotiation truck.

"When these vehicles show up, it's usually not a good time," said Jason Steinberg, marketing and promotion director for WBAB-FM, which organized the show with WBLI-FM and Nassau County. "We give people an opportunity to interact with them without stress and in a fun environment."

The two Cox Media stations began the shows in fall 2013 and host two a year, alternating between Nassau and Suffolk. The show has grown from about 30 vehicles to about 50, Steinberg said. He said Saturday's crowd appeared slightly larger than the estimated 12,000 to 15,000 last time.

"They just have the opportunity to get in the driver's seat and pretend," Steinberg said.

He said this was the first show with a firetruck from the Port Authority that's used at Kennedy Airport and with the Nassau police Arson Bomb Squad, which brought a radio-controlled robot.

Jacquetta Yee, 45, a finance director from Levittown, waited with her son Cole, 2, for the chance to get into a police car.

"He has tons of [toy] trucks and cars," Yee said. "So for him to actually see it and get inside and honk the horn is very exciting for him."

Bob Longobardi, 68, a volunteer firefighter from East Meadow, said hundreds of people had climbed into the department's 45 1/2-foot truck, but kids gave the best feedback: "They all want to be firemen."

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