Sesame Classic’s young runners will get to experience the inside of a real fire truck

Seven-year-old Jackson Bucantis sits in the driver’s seat of the Langhorne-Middletown Fire Company's 21 Truck and make friends with Sesame Place character Grover during a recent visit. Kids participating in the Kiwanis-Herald Sesame Place Classic races on May 19 will get a chance to do the same. (Photo by Wayne Fish)

      Dogs howl, cars pull over and people scurry to glimpse out the front window.

      That’s right, it’s a big red (and loud) fire truck racing down the street to put out another threatening blaze before it gets out of control.

      Now what if, say, on a fire vehicle’s off-day, your young daughter or son had a chance to not only hop into such a truck but sit in the gosh-darn driver’s seat?

      Pretty cool, right?

      Well, if a child is signed up for the 2024 Kiwanis-Herald Sesame Place Classic 5K, 1-mile run or kids’ sprint on Sunday, May 19, at Sesame Place in Langhorne, he or she can do exactly that in the Langhorne-Middletown Fire Company’s famed 21 Truck.

      It’s a great experience and a real-life thrill for youngsters who might someday have an interest in community service.

      And, who knows? A popular Sesame character like Grover just might show up to add to the fun.

     Langhorne-Middletown fire chief Frank Farry believes it’s a wonderful way for his department to interact with the community.

      “The Classic is always a great event, it’s always one of the best in Bucks County and it raises money for a good cause (the Dick Dougherty Honorarium Awards),’’ said Farry before a recent Sesame Classic race. “For the fire company, it provides us an opportunity to be out in the community, teach a little fire safety, provide some information to the families which are here – and they get a chance to get their picture with their children on the fire truck.’’

      Levittown-Bristol Kiwanis Club’s Jill Saul always looks forward to this day.

      “The kids are thrilled to get a look at this fabulous truck up close,’’ she said, “and often get to meet the firemen and sit in the truck. Imagine their delight when they are joined by Sesame characters. These are some of the many memorable moments families get to share at the Classic.’’

      Sesame Place’s P.J. Schweizer coordinates the Sesame characters appearances and looks forward to seeing the excitement on everyone’s faces when the fire truck arrives and is made accessible.

      “We’re excited to be hosting the race and whenever someone from the community comes it increases the sense of involvement,’’ Schweizer said.

      “Since we’re all about kids and we’re about educating kids, when they see something like a fire truck, it makes them interested in fire safety and what firemen do everyday. I think it makes them more responsible citizens in general.’’

      Other Kiwanis Club members, including veterans Dixie Rhodes, Donna Milner and Debbi Glass, expressed similar sentiments.

      “The Classic is always a real fun event,” Rhodes said. “I think that everybody who comes out will enjoy it immensely. The fire truck is stupendous and it’s every kid’s delight.”

      Added Milner: “Everything about the race is big, including the fire truck. All of our helpers can’t wait for the day to begin.”

      Current Kiwanis Club president Debbi Glass has the day circled on her calendar.

      “It’s going to be a great time for all who attend,” she said. “We’re taking photographs here now and getting ready for the big day.”

      Rose McIver, who directs the kids’ sprint race, knows the fire truck is a popular activity.

      “They can do some running and also sit in the truck,” she said. “What could be better than that?”

      For more information about the event, visit www.sesameplaceclassic5k.com. All registered runners will receive a free, one-day ticket to Sesame Place good for admission through the end of September.

      Proceeds from the Classic benefit the aforementioned Dick Dougherty Honorarium Awards to assist Bucks County high school seniors who are college-bound. In the 25-year history of the event, approximately $500,000 has been raised for the cause.

      >Race calendar

      >Friday

      SJR 5K, 6:30 p.m., Warrington. Contact www.stjstr.org

     Sunset Challenge 5K, 7 p.m., Langhorne. Contact www.runsignup.com

      >Saturday

      Great Peace Valley Park 5-Miler, 8 a.m., Doylestown. Contact www.scoogieevents.com

      YMCA Bucks County Strong 5K, 9 a.m., Doylestown. Contact www.bucks5series.com

      >Sunday

      CrackedBell Mother’s Day 5K (women only), 9 a.m., Washington Crossing. Contact www.runsignup.com

      >Sunday, May 19

      24th annual Kiwanis-Herald Sesame Place Classic, 7 a.m., Langhorne. Contact www.sesameplaceclassic5k.com

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About Wayne Fish 2444 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.