Newton Falls – Walking by the parking lot of the Newton Falls Public Library on Saturday morning passersby found several children being carried into an ambulance and loaded into the back of police cars. But the sirens sounding from the emergency vehicles weren’t mixed with cries of terror or fear, rather playful giggles and shrieks of delight as what appeared at first glance to be a kiddie crime scene was actually an opportunity for the younger patrons to mingle with the crisis crews and explore their vehicles up close in a friendly and familiar setting.

Serving as the library’s kick-off to their summer reading program, the warm weather weekend festivities invited children and their families to a morning of activities which featured a Touch-a-Truck element as the main event. This year’s theme is “heroes” and the NFPL isn’t just thinking about the kind with capes or magic wands from your favorite storybooks. Children’s librarian Chrissy Braun explained that the library wanted to expand the idea to incorporate local heroes into the program as well, thus Saturday’s celebrations were written into this summer’s storyline. Uniformed officials from the Station 43 fire department, the town’s police department and the Trumbull County sheriff’s office joined representatives from the city’s maintenance crew as well as a farmer from Kuchta Farms to line up the collection of fire engine, ambulance, cruiser, squad car, plow truck and tractor like a gallery of gargantuan gears and tires arranged on the asphalt. (Though the Batmobile was a no-show – it must have been in the shop or unexpectedly commissioned for a mission with the National Guard tanks and jeeps since they weren’t able to come after all either!)

In addition to the chance to climb up into the high driver’s seat of a bright red fire truck or peer from behind the protective glass partition of a classic black-and-white, attendees were encouraged to try their skills at a mini driving school, choosing a colorful cardboard car (with license plate!) and scurrying through a maze of rope lanes complete with tiny signs indicating speed limit (5 steps per hour!), crossroads, stopping points and sharp turns. Other pit stops included an oversized Kerplunk game, Angry Birds slingshot, an art corner for auto-inspired creations and a filling station with subs and snacks.

The fun to be had at the library is just starting to rev up as there are several more laps of activities planned before the checkered flag of fall drops. Wednesday, June 10th was Super Hero Training Camp where participants learned if they have what it takes to save the world. Wear your superhero cape and show off your skills on June 17th when the Heroes will assemble at 2pm. Hometown Heroes will be featured again the next week on June 24th as a real firefighter will be at the library for a meet and greet. Re-discover the wonder of Harry Potter and see if you have the magical aptitude to be admitted into the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry during an afternoon of Hogwarts Academy on Thursday, June 11th and come learn a bit of the science (magic in itself!) behind superhero powers and problems for morning workshops on Thursdays, June 11th & 18th. Visit the library’s website at www.newtonfalls.org for the full calendar of activities for various ages or call (330) 872-1282 for more information and to register. It could be the start of your own (super)hero story!