Touch-a-truck at Temple Aliyah

Kids wave goodbye as the firetruck leaves.

By Cameron Small
Hometown Weekly Intern

It was a typical June morning in Needham. The sun shined, birds chirped. It was not obscenely hot and humid. The last traffic of rush hour was a distant memory. At Temple Aliyah on Central Avenue, however, things weren’t as quiet and peaceful as the rest of the town.

Preschool children, their guardians, and their younger siblings, gathered in the rear parking lot behind the temple. On a wall of the temple, two sketched fire trucks hung for kids to complete with red paint. A few feet away, some kids decorated their own brown paper bag fire vests. Next in line was a table filled with water. Then red Play-doh on small square plates. Across the parking lot in the shade was a blue jigsaw mat with books about fire fighters.

The tranquil scene, or as tranquil as it could be with preschool children running around, was disrupted. The ground started vibrating. Something big was coming, something one could hear before they could see for sure what it was.

It was the crowning glory of the Gan Aliyah Preschool’s “Touch-a-truck” event: a fire engine from Station 1. Despite its fifteen-minute delay, the children still flocked over to it after it parked to touch it, to sit in the passenger seat, or to sit or stand on the back of the engine.

One parent commented that they “hoped the fire department is more prompt in the case of an actual emergency.”

After many smiling photos, the two firefighters had a presentation. While Private Paul Mitchell put on all of his firefighting gear, Private Tom Wesley spoke to the children about fire safety. Wesley went over what to do in the case of an actual emergency, and explained what Mitchell was putting on and why. Wesley also had one child show the others how to properly “stop, drop, and roll.” When Mitchell was finally allowed out of all his gear, he and Wesley gave the children temporary firefighting-related tattoos and red Needham snap bracelets.

Snack and story time followed. By the time the juice boxes were handed out and the story was read, it was time for the firetruck to leave and go back to work keeping people safe. The children waved farewell and cried “Bye-bye fire truck,” as Wesley and Mitchell honked the horn and turned on the siren.

And so the Touch-a-truck wound down in what was probably one of the best days of their young lives.

Touch-a-truck would not have been possible without the work of Debbi Fendell, the Director of Early Childhood Education at Gan Aliyah Preschool. It was a recruitment event, and anyone wishing to enroll their child should call (781-444-8522) soon, as space is quickly running out.

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