‘My parents are in heaven celebrating today’
LINO LAKES — The 10th District Snowmobile Run has come to the end of the trail.
After 50 years, organizer Patti Coleman has decided to hang it up. Her father, Gerald “Jerry” Coleman, began the Snowmobile Run as a way to collect membership before the Jan. 31 delinquency deadline.
“Dad loved his toys,” Patti said. “He played hard and worked hard.”
Participants in the Snowmobile Run would take automobiles or snowmobiles from Post to Post around the 10th District from Friday to Sunday on the final weekend in January to collect membership dues and forms. In the early days, they even slept on the floor of Post homes, because there weren’t as many hotels and motels as today.
The 10th District encircles three-quarters of the Twin Cities, from Bloomington to Lino Lakes, as well as west to Cokato and north to Denham. The suburbs grew during the past 50 years. The Districts of the Department of Minnesota are based on the congressional map at the time of the Legion’s beginning in 1919.
Jerry was the adjutant and membership director of Blaine Post 566 for many years. His wife, Patricia, was an Auxiliary member and would help out. The Post moved to Lino Lakes in 2000. Whether Blaine or Lino Lakes, the Snowmobile Run always would finish at Post 566.
The Coleman family in those days lived in Circle Pines. The old Blaine Post was by the border with Lexington, and it had members from the Blaine-Lexington-Circle Pines-Lino Lakes community. After Mom and Dad could no longer run the run, daughter Patti took over.
Patricia died May 26, 2013. Jerry died Feb. 20, 2018. He was Post 566 commander in 1960-61. He served a term as a District 10 vice commander, too. He was a Legionnaire for 60 continuous years.
“He believed the real work of the Legion was at the Post level,” Patti said. “He was the type of guy who would go to the Post every day and look after the membership and other paperwork, and he already worked odd hours as a truck driver for the Post Office.”
On Saturday, Jan. 31, the 50th annual 10th District Snowmobile Rally wrapped up at Lino Lakes Post 566. A half-sized crowd of participants gathered in the back room, and Patti spoke.
She said that, in 50 years, there had been zero accidents and just a single speeding ticket.
This year yielded 140 memberships for the Sons of The American Legion, 66 for The American Legion and 136 for the American Legion Auxiliary. That’s a total of 342.
However, there were a few stragglers, so the total is expected to climb a bit a tad higher.
Patti also announced the run would be discontinued.
“It’s been a District Family event, represented by every branch of the Family,” she said. “My parents are in heaven celebrating today.”
She called the ride a legacy of Post 566 and of the Coleman family.
Tenth District Membership Director Daryl Harmon, unopposed candidate for commander, said the District will have a new rally of some kind in 2022. He thanked Patti and Post 566.