Digging It: Kids dive in with enthusiasm at Dozer Day’s preview. Two more days follow

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter



If you go

■ What: 10th Annual Dozer Day.

■ When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

■ Where: Clark County Fairgrounds, 17402 N.E. Delfel Road.

■ Cost: $8 for children ages 2 to 12 and seniors, $10 adults, kids younger than 2 are free.

■ Parking: $6.

■ Contact:http://dozerday.org.

Arthur Flores, a fifth-grader at Burton Elementary School, grinned as he climbed down from the bulldozer and launched himself toward the next line of kids waiting to drive heavy equipment.

“It was fun!” Arthur, 11, said. “First, we went through tunnels. Then we played in the sand. Then we drove the dozer. High five!”

He and his schoolmate Matthew Joy, 10, slapped hands.

“We’re buddies!” Matthew said. “High five!”

The two boys wearing yellow plastic hard hats were among 120 Evergreen Public School students with special needs at Friday’s preview of the 10th annual Dozer Day.

The family-friendly (and multiday) Dozer Day provides access to dump trucks, dozers, excavators, garbage trucks, fire engines, ambulances and more — all for kids to climb on, sit in and even move some dirt. Other activities include digging for gemstones and crawling through pipes and enormous heavy-equipment tires.

This year the event has a new venue at the Clark County Fairgrounds. It will be open today and Sunday.

The event had outgrown its previous venue at the rock quarry on 192nd Avenue, said Renee Nutter, spokeswoman for the Nutter Foundation, the event’s largest sponsor.

Also new is a $6 parking fee. Admission proceeds will fund grants to children’s nonprofit organizations.

Donavan Smith, 6, from Columbia Valley Elementary, had so much fun driving the John Deere excavator that he did not want his turn at the controls to end. When a volunteer helped him down from the driver’s seat, Donavan didn’t walk to the exit where his dad was waiting. Instead, he ran back around the excavator, with his dad and other adults in pursuit. His dad, Devon Smith, picked him up and carried him back to the sand pit where kids moved sand with plastic excavators and dozers.

He wiggled out of his dad’s arms and crawled into a massive construction pipe set up for kids to explore.

Donavan’s mom, Sylvia Cerdena, said her son hopped out of bed Friday and was “really excited about Dozer Day.”

Kids swarmed over the play area — created with enormous tractor and loader tires stacked for kids to climb on, crawl through and propel themselves like missiles. The six-foot-diameter tires weigh between 300 and 600 pounds.

Tryston Rose, 10, a fourth-grader at Silver Star Elementary, climbed to the top of the tires again and again — then yelled and leaped.

The Les Schwab employees monitoring the tire climb chuckled.

“A few tires and some sand and they’re happy,” said Brien Rose from Woodland.