Clearwater City Council Visits Nagano City
By Anne McKay Garris
Last week, members of the Clearwater City Council and their wives were guests of honor at a week of pageantry only the Japanese can contrive. It was the 50th anniversary of the year the City of Clearwater, U.S.A. and Nagano City, Japan, agreed to be sisters under the newly inaugurated Sister City program started by President Dwight Eisenhower in a gesture to hopefully start to heal the breach created by the Second World War.
According to former Clearwater Mayor Rita Garvey, Mayor Kurashi of Nagano City came to the United States in 1956, just eleven years after the War, seeking a sister city. After considerable travel around the United States, he arrived in Clearwater and decided that our tourist destination city was most compatible with his. Nagano boasts the famous Zenkoji Temple, popular with tourists. Like Clearwater, it is also known for its winter sports.
By 1959, agreements had been drawn up and Nagano and Clearwater became official Sister Cities. Sporadic attention was paid to the program until 1979 when then Mayor Garvey revived interest in the program which led to exchange visits between citizens and officials of the two cities.
Among the souvenirs of such exchanges are a collection of gifts to the city from Nagano visitors, including the exquisitely beautiful kimono on display at the Clearwater Main Library along with other charming examples of Japanese art and culture.
Among the activities our representatives attended, last week, were a meeting with Nagano's mayor; a convivial meeting with the chairman and vice chairman of the council and a courtesy call on the combined council. Highlights of the week were a re-signing of the Sister Cities agreement, a welcome reception and, on October 11, a Sanaba Matsuri Samurai parade.
One hopes the Council brought home copious pictures, and shares them. According to a City Hall spokesman, air fare of less than $1,000 each, for Mayor Frank Hibbard and Council Member John Doran was paid for by the City Manager's Discretionary Fund. Council Member Carlen Petersen did not participate, and Council Members Paul Gibson and George Cretekos took care of all their own expenses.
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