Every year, I tell myself I’m going to blog about a fabulous family event organized by The City of Richmond, B.C. And then I forget. I put a sticky note reminder on my wall this time, so voilà!
Like most little people under the age of six, my kids are fascinated/obsessed with garbage trucks, backhoes, dump trucks, anything related to the police, fire, ambulance and/or sirens, spraying water, and dirt.
The public works open house at the city’s operations yard allows them to see — and touch all of the above.
The well-organized event impresses us every year, not only with the activities and giveaways they have for the kids, but also the genuine enthusiasm and patience the city staff show during throughout the day.
This year, H was old/brave enough to try spreading concrete, and both boys “made” wooden toolboxes with (a lot of) help from the city’s carpenters.
They climbed into forklifts and excavators and honked horns (so much horn-honking) and onto/into various emergency vehicles. There’s usually a firefighters’ obstacle course (where you have to wear a fireman’s jacket and hat), as well as face painting, crafts, bouncy castle, a live entertainment stage, and several information booths on recycling, water and power conservation, gardening, recreation centres, and public transit.
Here’s the best part: children eight years old and under get a free meal from several top-notch food trucks at the open house. The only catch is you have to cut/print out a coupon provided by the city. (Even H recognizes the safety vest-wearing stork now.) I eagerly flip through the local community paper every year and do my coupon-clipping; today, I realized the city also posts a version on its Twitter and Facebook.
The city covers the cost, and it’s great exposure both for the food trucks/booths and for people like me to try different businesses. The impressive part is that they treat the kids’ meals as seriously as adults’ portions and presentations.
Look at this gorgeous kid’s pork slider from Poomba’s Smokehouse:
We liked it so much (yes, we snuck bites from H) that we adults bought a maple-smoked pulled pork with coleslaw (around $10), which was big enough to feed two people.
This is the kid’s cheese quesadilla from Arturo’s Mexico to Go, which came with salsa, avocado, and tortilla chips:
Of course, we’re not going to kid ourselves. Hot dogs from Taste Grindz catering are usually the most popular children’s choice (it comes with a bag of chips and a drink as part of the free meal):
The open house usually runs 11 a.m.-3 p.m. We’ve always arrived just after it opens because parking does get tricky quickly. There are porta potties on site, hand-washing stations, and drinking water stations to fill your reusable bottle.
And there’s always free stuff to take home to remember one of their favourite days of the year.