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Family Play Date: Truck Factory Open House

I’ve been waiting to write this post for an entire year so I’m pretty excited that today’s finally the day.  As parents who live in what is often a soggy city, my husband and I are always appreciative when we find a family friendly activity capable of taking up a large chunk of our weekend.  The annual Paccar open house, or what C’s affectionately dubbed “the truck show”, is just such an activity.


I’m not just posting on it today because of how much my family loves the event (although we all do, make no mistake, S was just as enthralled as C).  I’m also hoping to get you to think outside the box when it comes to family play days.  I want to encourage you to grab hold of an interest your child has and see if you can find an exciting way to explore it with them.


This was our second year attending and C has literally been talking about it for the last 12 months.  In fact his level of anticipation for this year’s show was so high that my husband actually teased him by telling him Christmas was this weekend, to which he responded, “No it’s not, Daddy.  It’s the truck show!”.


In case you’re not familiar with the Paccar company (I certainly wasn’t until my little guy entered my world), they make trucks.  But not just any trucks, BIG trucks, 18-wheel, tractor-tailor trucks.  You know, the kind that little boys lie in bed and dream about.


Exactly one time a year the good folks at Paccar open the doors to their technical center and allow little and big kids alike to explore to their hearts content.  From the immense outdoor track to the top-secret testing rooms (some of which my camera wasn’t allowed entrance to), there is no shortage of things to see, climb on, and wonder at.
Our truck show adventure began at home with a special breakfast of cinnamon rolls which, according to one of C’s all time favorite books Trucks Roll, is how every good trucker starts his day.
Once our bellies were full, it was time to hit the road for our hour long pilgrimage to the Paccar facility.  We got there shortly after it opened but there were already rows and rows of cars parked out on the test track turned parking lot when we arrived.
Outside there were semi-trucks, tanker trucks, trucks with cranes and fire trucks lined up for the kids to climb in and on.  There were also fireman on hand handing out hats and showing off their very tall ladders.

I told you S was excited.

Here’s C doing his best trucker impression.  Click through for more details on our day (there’s one room in particular you’re going to want to see).

S loves both trucks and shiny things so it was hard to tell what she was most excited about: the big wheels or all the opportunities to look at herself.
Inside there was food, balloons and other goodies, plus a lot more trucks.
C was especially impressed with the beds and refrigerators in some of the cabs (who am I kidding, we all thought those were pretty cool).
Next to this big engine were the rooms in which cameras weren’t allowed.  Inside were entire tractor trailers being jousled around by enormous hydrolic machines simulating the roughest terrain I can image.

By far the most jaw dropping section was the cold chamber where they actually made snow to test out the vehicles in severe conditions.

Along with highlighting their own products, they also opened up their space for local high school kids to come and show off their entries into the Shell Eco-marathon.


After lots of playing, our adventures were done and it was time to head home.  Both kids napped all the way back (thank God for small miracles).  Much of the rest of the afternoon was spent playing fireman or truck driver and going through our loot.


Does your family have a community event they look forward to every year or do you have any other outside-the-box family play ideas to share?  I’d love it if you’d tell us about it in the comments.


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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous April 16, 2012 at 12:11 pm

We go to our local old car show that they set up on Main Street. They also have an oldies band and it’s fun to see all the kids dancing to the music.


KateB April 16, 2012 at 1:19 pm

What state is that in? It looks fantastic!


Amber April 16, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Love this post! What a wonderful thing to do. I’m inspired to take my airplane obsessed toddler to the Museum of Flight.


Steph April 16, 2012 at 2:35 pm

I had no idea this type event existed. We’ll have to do this next year and make a weekend of it. Is it always in April?


Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com April 16, 2012 at 3:43 pm

For everyone who asked, the Paccar open house is in Mount Vernan, WA and I believe it is every April (there’s a link to info. about it in the first paragraph of this post). Hope that helps!


cecilia April 16, 2012 at 3:56 pm

how cool! we don’t have anything like this that we wait all year for, but we are lucky to have all sorts of festivals and events that happen year-round since we live in a major city. this truck show seems like something my daughter would LOVE!


Megan B April 16, 2012 at 10:42 pm

We have our annual Touch-a-Truck where the kids can explore firetrucks moving trucks buses bookmobiles etc. It’s awesome and already on our calendar for May!


Amelia April 17, 2012 at 12:59 am

Tractor parade- little man love his John Deere. He will wave and wave and wave to every tractor.


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