Railroad Avenue in downtown Opelika was buzzing with activity Saturday as two events – Touch-A-Truck and Burger Wars – provided hands-on entertainment for area families.
On the south side of the tracks, sirens wailed and horns sounded as young enthusiasts explored fire engines, police vehicles, garbage trucks and more.
One of the vehicles on display was a Volkswagen Beetle covered in chalk paint. A sticker stretched across the top of the windshield read, “Chalk-A-Bug,” and a pile of sidewalk chalk pieces beckoned attendees to draw on the car.
Gannon Snell, 3, of Columbus, clutched a piece of chalk and left his artistic touch on the Beetle as his father, John Snell, watched.
“We came last year, and he loved it. So we figured we’d come back and try again when he’s a little bigger,” Snell said. “He’s been everywhere, touching everything, so he’s loving it so far.
“It’s nice because it gets the kids out and gets them to see the police and firemen and everything. They normally only see those kinds of vehicles when it’s a bad thing. So now they get to see them when they can go up and say hi…it’s kind of cool.”
Variety of vehicles
At the other end of the street, Stephanie McGinn climbed out of a Lee County SWAT vehicle with her sons Stephen, 6, and Grffin, 4.
“We just moved to Auburn last week, so this is our first time out,” McGinn said. “My husband’s company has a booth down there, APR. So they’re here and we just came along and thought the kids would enjoy it.”
Sherie Beatty, with her husband Mark, 8-year-old son Zarian and 2-year-old daughter Zariyah, drove from LaFayette to attend Touch-A-Truck for the first time.
“He’s into big trucks, so this was right up his alley, just to be able to see all the different types of trucks that are out here today,” Beatty said, motioning to her son.
But Zarian’s favorite vehicle of the day was not a truck.
“(It’s a) race car, because I like how fast it goes and how it doesn’t need a key,” he said.
On the north side of the tracks, the air was thick with smoke from grills as teams of restaurants and other businesses served up savory burgers.
Attendees at the grilling competition and tasting event spent tickets in exchange for burger samples, and voted for their favorite bites of the day.
Proceeds from Burger Wars, which was hosted by the Opelika Rotary Club, will benefit the Food Bank of Alabama’s “Backpack Meals” program.
Katie Crow and her daughter Ellerie walked down North Railroad Avenue, tickets in hand, as they decided between the more than 30 options available.
Crow said she enjoyed the “Cabana Burger” offered by the Auburn University Club, because she liked the onion rings that topped it.
“This is actually our first time to get out here, but we’ve always heard about it,” said Crow, who lives in Auburn and works in Opelika. “So we finally got a change to get out and try hamburgers, because that’s her favorite food.”