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Slow Down and Gawk

Display of emergency vehicles will help celebrate opening of Oxnard park.


If you're on a family drive near Oxnard Airport on Saturday, don't be surprised to see lots of emergency vehicles--fire engines, CHP, sheriff and Oxnard Police cruisers, a helicopter, a 55-foot-long mega-ambulance and even a Coast Guard "crash boat."

What you'll see at 5th Street and Patterson Road won't be a disaster scene--not even a movie set for a disaster scene. But if you want to slow down and gawk, that's OK.

In fact, you're welcome to park the car and let the kids out so they can crawl all over the equipment. The emergency personnel will even let your kids suit up in specialized gear carried on the vehicles.

It's all for a daylong celebration of the opening of a new park.

Bobbie Beatty chairs the Sea Air Neighborhood Council, which holds an annual get-together on the west side of Oxnard, and this year decided to synchronize the event with the opening of Southwest Community Park and the dedication of a new Boys & Girls Club.

"This time we decided to invite everyone in town and use the occasion to recognize those who serve our community on a daily basis," Beatty said.

In addition to giving families a chance to meet some of the front-liners who risk their lives when we're in trouble, the event will be an occasion to meet Oxnard Mayor Manuel Lopez; incoming Police Chief Art Lopez (no relation), formerly with the Los Angeles Police Department; and Assemblyman Nao Takasugi.

A police chopper will land at the site about 9:30 a.m. and be available for on-board inspections (but not flights) all day.

The officials will appear at 10 a.m. Available for hands-on investigation all day will be the fire equipment, the "crash boat" (which, when out of the water, looks like Han Solo's fighting vehicle in "Star Wars"), the huge ambulance with emergency beds for 12, and other mobile facilities and gear.

Kids might also take a look at two nonemergency vehicles on display--a General Motors EV-1 and an electric Toyota 4x4 truck.

With so much speculation in the media that global warming and our new, crazy weather patterns may be related to the burning of oil, coal and forests, kids may be interested in seeing electric cars and trucks.

Speaking of the weather, the U.S. Weather Service will have an information booth at the event. Tim McClung, who bears the impressive title of warning coordinator at the USWS station in Port Hueneme, will answer questions about his profession.

"Kids always ask what you need to do to be a weatherman, because they think it's a way to get on television," McClung said. He explains that the people who do the forecasting are not usually the ones you see on TV.

When explaining how forecasting is done, he often says that studying math and physics is required, "and some kids don't want to hear that. But I also point out we are in a great business, because the need to know what the weather is going to be is only going to grow."


"Grand Opening of Southwest Community Park," Sea Air Neighborhood Council hosts family festivities and demonstrations by police and fire departments, Coast Guard and other agencies, Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 5th Street at Patterson Road, Oxnard; (805) 985-5603.

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