Sundown symphony: Voices, air horns blend at National Mall

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Updated Aug 4, 2021

The annual That’s a Big 10-4 on D.C. event on the National Mall for 2020 was reduced to a single day — Friday, Oct. 2 — in the nation’s capital, given the COVID-19 pandemic, uncertainty around social unrest and more. Still, as in years past the event featured public outreach, engagement with FMCSA’s acting administrator and plenty driver camaraderie.

Regular attendees and new owner-operator participants came from every corner of the country to participate in the event’s third year. Oklahoma-based independent Bryan Hutchens, among 10-4’s organizers, views the event as a success despite a slightly reduced turnout (about 30 trucks, maybe 70 people altogether) and the compressed time on the Mall for public outreach.

FMCSA Acting Administrator Wiley Deck spent an hour in conversation with the group around regulatory topics. That included the Federal Motor Carrier ‘s new regs-advisory panel of drivers, taking nominations through October 16.

View from the mall as the sun fell behind the Washington Monument Friday.View from the mall as the sun fell behind the Washington Monument Friday.

What’s more, Hutchens noted, annual food bank donations for Fredericksburg, Virginia., of particular use this year with unemployment for so many families, topped 23,500 pounds. Among the donations, a great deal of it from Ohio-based owner-operator Todd Graham, was “five pallets of riblets,” Hutchens said. The local food bank’s drive-through day for residents is Saturday, Hutchens said, and food bank reps told him Sunday “they got rid off four pallets in one day. 23,000 pounds feeds a lot of people.”

A raffle — partly improvised, with organizers Brian Brase and Hutchens himself shaving their heads and beards, for a price — also raised $5,530 for the Truckers Final Mile organization, founded by owner-op Robert Palm. (Antonio Cammarasana, among truckers Hutchens says he met during Mayday demonstrations in D.C. this year, likewise ended up well shorn in support of TFM.)

With most truck shows canceled in 2020, it’s been a difficult year for the group. Hutchens noted, “There’s no fund-raiser” built into the calendar for TFM. “If we have to lose our hair over it, that’s OK. I’ll grow it till next year and they can buy it again.”

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What organizers formerly called the annual “People’s Choice” award this year went to well-known advocate Arline Bennett, who couldn’t be in attendance given her ongoing battle with cancer. Hutchens and company are renaming the award in her honor from now on. The Arline Bennett Award will go to the 10-4 participant who’s consistently gone above and beyond in advocacy efforts, just as its namesake. Bennett’s long been a presence among driver-led grassroots groups as a coordinator, leader and voice of reason, and looked up to by drivers of all manner of backgrounds.

Every year, too, a banner signed by all participants goes to a participant who exemplifies representation of professionalism and service. This year’s honoree was owner-op Todd Graham, leased with a two-truck operation out of Fostoria, Ohio.

Graham, Hutchens said, not only brought in 12 of the pallets that went to the food bank this year, he also he delivered 120 pounds of chicken and 40-50 pounds of bacon to help feed participants during the better part of four days at the Fredericksburg, Virginia, fairgrounds. “And then he sat back there and cooked that food. Not only did he bring it – he was the guy by the fire the whole time.”

Owner-operator Todd Graham and his 2003 Kenworth W900L, one of two trucks in his leased operation; his voice is one of many featured in the video at the top of this post.Owner-operator Todd Graham and his 2003 Kenworth W900L, one of two trucks in his leased operation; his voice is one of many featured in the video at the top of this post.

10-4 organizers view the event as a neutral platform for amplifying drivers’ voices and concerns about the industry. Some are there for fun or camaraderie. Others have a particular issue on their mind, whether transparency in brokered freight transactions this year or hours of service and ELDs in the past — and present, as hours of service continues to concern many despite the recent changes.

The event is a spectacle, too, particularly when night falls over D.C. and the slow line-up and roll-out procession commences amid a symphony of horns that can feel raucous and somber, beautiful at times. You can hear that in the video above, along with the voices of owner-ops, including (aside from those heard over the CB) the following in order of first appearance:

**Fred Bowerman, Ohio-based 10-4 organizer.
**Dan Davidson, small fleet owner of Davidson Trucking
**David Lewis, Davidson driver and soon to be owner-operator of a 1990s International Eagle
**Artie Daniel, owner-operator of A.C. Daniel Trucking, a one man, two-truck, five-trailer operation out of McKinney, Virginia
**Mike Landis of Lititz, Pennsylvania, on brokered freight and the Mayday protests earlier this year
**C.J. Karman, West Coast former owner-operator and maker of the Ezlogz ELD – also on the three-week Mayday protest vigil outside the White House in May 2020
**Todd Graham, as mentioned above.

Scenes include those from roll-out from the Fredericksburg, Virginia, fairgrounds late Thursday, Oct. 1, and Friday’s event on the Mall.