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Rain sends wagon train to BP school

Steele County Times - Staff Photo - Create Article
A young passenger looks out the “window” of the wagon he’s in as the Friendship Wagon Train passes through Blooming Prairie. The BP Lions Club fed them dinner on June 23 before the riders made camp at BPHS. The American Legion Auxiliary provided breakfast for about 60 people the next morning. Submitted photo
Kay Fate, Staff Writer

Wagon trains are, by their very nature, meticulously planned and organized.

It was that way in the 1800s, and it’s that way now.

So when the rains came during the week of travel for the 2024 Friendship Wagon Train, some quick work brought a resolution.

The train, which featured about 20 wagons and about 40 outriders, originally planned to camp overnight at Prairie Manor on June 23.

It was too wet – dangerous for both humans and animals – so the plan was adjusted; the riders stayed in the parking lot of Blooming Prairie High School.

“Mr. (Chris) Staloch didn’t miss a beat,” said Karen Beede, a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, which hosted the group for breakfast.

Staloch, the superintendent, opened the school to allow participants to eat inside at tables, out of the elements.

The auxiliary members provided breakfast sandwiches and fruit; the Blooming Prairie Lions Club fed the wagon members an evening meal of burgers, baked beans and potato salad the night of June 23.

The group had lunch at Litomysl on June 24, then rode to Hope for a two-day layover. There was an auction the evening of June 25, with all proceeds going to the Friendship Wagon Train’s mission of raising funds and awareness for Minnesota Special Olympics.

Roberta Anderson, of Rushford, turned 90 on July 4. She was a member of the first Friendship Wagon Train, which was held in the Twin Cities area.

That changed quickly, as organizers realized the traffic made the ride unsafe.

Participants in this year’s events came from Minnesota, Iowa, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Missouri.

The ride wrapped up Saturday in Good Thunder. As of June 29, the group had raised $33,500 with this efforts, and donations are still coming in.

“We keep our books open until Aug. 1,” said Monica Davis, a co-organizer of the ride, so people may still contribute.

Checks can be made payable to Special Olympics and sent to Friendship Wagon Train, attn.: Monica Davis; 10106 60th St. NW, Byron, MN, 55920.

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