The Coon Rapids American Legion hosted its annual community picnic to honor all veterans Saturday at the post home on Crooked Lake Boulevard.
Food, pop and beer were served and there were games for children with prizes.
A police dog demonstration was put on by Coon Rapids Police Officer Mark McDonough and his canine partner, Buddy.
McDonough has been a police officer for 30 years and a canine handler for 20 of those years.
Buddy is his fifth dog and has only been on the job for 18 months, yet he and McDonough have placed fifth in the national police dog trials and would have finished higher but for a mistake by McDonough, the officer said.
Buddy is a Belgian Shepherd (Malinois), smaller than the traditional police dog weighing 63 pounds, according to McDonough.
His previous dog weighed 105 pounds, McDonough said.
“Buddy is a high driven dog,” he said.
He has some 25 apprehensions in his short career and is also an excellent narcotics sniffing dog, McDonough said.
Also on hand at the picnic was the Coon Rapids Fire Department’s newest piece of equipment, a ladder truck – the ladder extends 100 feet – which is based at Fire Station 2.
“It’s state-of-the-art equipment and the best fire truck that $1 million can buy,” said Bruce Sanders, past Coon Rapids American Legion commander and a member of the Coon Rapids City Council.
The new aerial fire truck includes a Hurst extrication tool, hose and nozzles, a camera, mechanic training and other smaller items of equipment. It replaced the 1988 model, which was sold to another fire department for $200,000.
Presiding at the event was Dominic Sambrano, who took over as the Coon Rapids post’s new commander last month.
A native of Austin, Texas, who served in the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve in an armored division battalion based at Fort Carson, Colo., Sambrano moved to Minnesota 15 years ago.
He works as operations manager for ICS Air at the Anoka County-Blaine Airport.
Sambrano has been a member of the Coon Rapids American Legion post for five years and served as second vice commander last year, his first year as an officer with the post.
His goal as Legion commander is to grow membership, which is presently “very strong” at over 700, according to Sambrano.
He also wants to beautify the exterior of the Legion and make the post “friendly and affordable” to come to for not only veterans, but also for the community as a whole, Sambrano said.
Peter Bodley is at [email protected]