Winter Park’s New Fire Truck is a Mobile Playground

Mobile Playground Fire TruckFire trucks are always kid magnets, but the City of Winter Park’s newest addition, the Friendship 1, is bound to be the most popular—and entertaining—engine yet.

Stocked with hula hoops and balls instead of hooks and ladders, the decommissioned fire truck is a playground on wheels designed to get kids fired up about physical activity wherever it rolls.

Purchased with a $20,000 grant from Healthy Central Florida (HCF), the vision to take a decommissioned fire truck and turn it into a “mobile playground” took root about three years ago.  The Healthy Winter Park team, a group of volunteers working under the umbrella of HCF, traveled to Atlanta for a conference on building healthy communities. While there, team members learned about another community, Davenport, Idaho, operating a similar fire truck playground and vowed to make it a reality at home.

Why?  “All kids love fire trucks and want to play on and explore them,” explained Jill Hamilton Buss, HCF Executive Director. “The idea is to encourage kids to come to a park or community event to see the fire truck, and simultaneously be introduced to a new park, or be encouraged to actively play – with the balls, hula hoops, custom corn-hole games and more,” she said.

In addition to traveling to area parks, the truck could also go to festivals, schools, community events, senior facilities and other community gatherings to promote physical activity, healthy food consumption, smoking cessation, falls prevention or other healthy living principles and activities.

The Davenport fire truck is stocked with crafts, games, sports, hobbies, art and even musical instruments. It serves over 1,500 children, with over 10,000 visitors each summer, and is available to rent for parties.

Friendship 1 technically belongs to the City of Winter Park, but city officials are generously offering to “share it” with sister cities, Maitland and Eatonville. The details of this shared use are still being worked out, but the spirit of cooperation is strong and more details will be unveiled soon, Ms. Buss said.

Questions can be directed to Ms. Buss at JHamiltonBuss@healthycf.org.