Alex Van Wyhe and son Harvey check out a loader on Heavy Equipment Day, Saturday May 6 at the Fairgrounds parking lot. Photo courtesy of Fran Daly

Youngsters climbed on the power equipment, under the watchful eyes of their parents and the equipment owners, during the event Saturday afternoon in Haines.

The fourth annual Heavy Equipment Day was sponsored by the Haines chapter of the Alaska Miners’ Association. The day was started as a way to inspire the next generation of equipment operators, said Liz Cornejo, chair of the Haines chapter.

It’s also a way for current operators to learn and share their ideas, and to find educational pathways during a “family fun event,” she said.

The event was first held in 2018, but it had to take off for a few years due to COVID, Cornejo said.

Otherwise, the event is held, rain or shine. Last year, the event was rainy, she said.

The event is held late enough in the year for it to be warm enough for kids and families to come out – but early enough so that the real heavy construction hasn’t started yet. The day highlights not only the equipment, but also the other parts of the work.

“And really highlights equipment, to the health and safety aspects of the operation, the environmental responsibility of the operation, how to be a professional and responsible operator,” Cornejo said. “Because of all that we do, the shovel in the ground is really where everything comes to fruition. To do it right and to do it safe.”

There was a wide variety of trucks on show at the event, from fire engines to lift trucks, and children had a chance to touch and feel the trucks, ask questions, climb in, sit in the driver’s seat, and honk the horn. Oh, how they liked to honk the horn.

The event was sponsored by Kensington Mine, Constantine, the Haines Borough, the State of Alaska, Chilkoot Indian Association, Haines Industrial and other organizations.