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Safety, fun stressed at Gwinnett Public Safety Festival

Caleb Egle, 3, poses for a photo with Fire Department Capt. Wes Ulrich, during Saturday’s Public Safety Festival at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville.

Caleb Egle, 3, poses for a photo with Fire Department Capt. Wes Ulrich, during Saturday’s Public Safety Festival at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville.

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Hannah Williams, 1, sits on a police motorcycle, during the Gwinnett Public Safety Festival, where local public safety officers met with residents.

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Firefighter Brian Verretti hands a coloring book to Wynn McFarland, as Lt. Jason McVey and Wynn’s mom Nicole look on. During the Public Safety Festival Saturday, kids and adults were given information on safety and spoke to police officers and firefighters about their jobs.

LAWRENCEVILLE — For days, Caleb Egle, 3, has slept in his firefighter costume, unable to wait until Halloween to dress up like his heroes.

On Saturday, he got to meet them.

Caleb and his family were among thousands of people who came out Saturday to the annual Gwinnett County Public Safety Festival in Lawrenceville.

“He’s in heaven,” Mike Baker said of his own 3-year-old Will, hanging out with firefighters. “It’s great.”

The festivities, which included demonstrations of how to “stop, drop and roll” and police K-9s, alongside bounce houses and balloons, are intended to not only teach people some tips on safety but to let them know that public safety personnel can be trusted.

“It’s great for the public to see the capabilities onthe firefighters and police officers,” said Police Chief Charlie Walters, who wondered through the crowd. “It gives them the opportunit to meet officers in a less stressful situation. I’m glad that we get to do this every year.”

The timing is right, Gwinnett Fire spokesman Capt. Tommy Rutledge said of the festival, which is at the end of National Preparedness Month and a great kick-off to Fire Prevention Month.

“The draw is the neat trucks, but we want to give the information both to adults and children about fire safety and prevention,” Rutledge said, near booths about kitchen fires featuring stoves. “It’s all about partnering with other agencies to make sure Gwinnett is a safe place.”

“And even the big kids like climbing on the trucks,” he added with a laugh.