Harker Heights was filled with the sound of honking horns as approximately 500 area children explored different vehicles during the Big Truck Show on Wednesday.

Every city department was represented at the event, which is hosted annually by the Stewart C. Meyer Harker Heights Public Library as a kickoff event to its summer reading club.

The Harker Heights Police Department alone brought a motorcycle, a patrol unit, an ATV (known as a “mule”), and a Humvee used by the SWAT team.

Officers Crystal Thomas and Peter Quichocho were all smiles as they helped children into and out of the vehicles and allowed them to honk the horns.

Thomas said, “We get to interact with the community, and the kids come out, get comfortable with the police.”

Quichocho echoed the sentiment.

“I love kids,” he said. “I get to teach the new generation that we (the police) are here to help.”

Many other vehicles and big trucks were on display, to include a fire truck, a street sweeper, and construction equipment.

Scott and White McLane Children’s Hospital also landed a helicopter, and Fort Hood brought out two eight-wheeled Stryker combat vehicles, which the children could climb into, try on helmets, and move the camera around.

Ashley Neidig of Killeen brought her 3-year-old son, Landon, and she said though he was fascinated with everything, he liked the dump truck and excavator the best.

“He plays with his toys in the sand pit, but then he saw the live versions … he said, ‘Oh, wow! Big tires!’ He loves the tires for some reason,” she said.

“This is something for all genders, and for the whole family,” Neidig said. “This is a work week, and all of these people took time out to do this … it’s amazing. And to have something like this gravitate toward something educational is amazing.”

Amara Lichak, 8, and Lilliana Lichak, 6, of Harker Heights, were both signed up for the summer reading club, but not before they got to see the big trucks.

When asked what they liked the best, they both answered, “All of it!” But they also both said that what they looked forward to the most was the reading club, a fact verified by mother Jennifer.

“We even read chapter books together as a family,” she said.

The Big Truck Show was part of the Harker Heights Public Library’s Big Summer Reading Club Opening Party, which included games, music, and crafts. It also gave people a chance to sign up for the library’s summer reading club, for ages 0 through adult, and see the summer programs and workshops on offer for the summer.

Library director Lisa Youngblood said of the big-truck event, “It is (also) a great way for people to talk to the community helpers and workers.” It also fits the library’s motto: “Building a community of readers.”

This year’s summer reading club’s theme is “Libraries Rock! Read On!” Teams are going to be named “bands,” one for kids, one for teens and adults. The programs offered throughout the summer are varied and plentiful, for all ages, and for all interests.

Youngblood said that last year, the total number of participants in the reading club was 1,114, with a total of books and hours read of 39,224. She hopes to top those numbers this year.

It is not required to be a member of the Harker Heights Public Library to join the summer reading club. For more information on the club and the programs offered, visit the library’s web site at www.ci.harker-heights.tx.us/index.php/2011-11-22-17-14-10/library.

And for a little fun, once at the library’s home page, be sure to click the YouTube link in the bottom right-hand corner. Once there, check out the short video the library staff did to promote the summer reading club.

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