By Jim Newell
Fire trucks, police cars, a cement mixer, road commission construction vehicles, bulldozers and backhoes. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office sent a SWAT vehicle and motorcycle.
Oh, and a helicopter from Life Flight of Michigan. A big hit with the kids.
These were just some of the vehicles at this year’s Big Rig Gig on Friday, giving kids the chance to climb on and through the big rigs, honk the horns and interact with police officers, firefighters and paramedics.
Proceeds from the Big Rig Gig, held at Friendship Park, benefit Orion Township’s Community Programs.
“The revenue from this helps us to cover the programs that don’t bring in revenue, like our free concerts in the park, our Summer Sizzle, events like that,” said Jennifer Vezina, programmer for the Community Programs Department and event organizer.
“The Big Rig Gig is my favorite event and brings in people from all over Orion and neighboring communities. Attendance was a little low due to the weather…we were at about 460 families through the gate,” she said.
The event usually gets 600-800 carloads of visitors paying a $5 entry fee. Concessions and souvenirs also help raise funds.
But for the kids it’s all about exploring the big rigs.
“The most exciting thing…well, the helicopter landing. That’s pretty cool. Anything with a siren is on the top of their list, so anything with the police department, the fire department, the EMS, those seem to be right up there,” Vezina said. “The kids love it (the sirens) though, you can’t take that away from the kids.”
Vezina said the first responders are “Always willing to come out. They bring different equipment every year, it just depends on what’s new and what’s available.”
All first responders and construction companies donate their time and vehicles for the event.
The Community Programs Department has held the Big Rig Gig for about 10 years.
Anyone who would like to learn more about the Community Programs Department and their events can visit www.oriontownship.org and look under the Parks Programs tab.