Mayor Jim Newberry welcomed visitors from around the world today as Lexington celebrated the 50th anniversary of its Sister City relationship with Deauville, France, and unveiled a new sign that touts Lexington’s four Sister Cities, Deauville; County Kildare Ireland; Shinhidaka, Japan; and Newmarket, England.
“We want to welcome all of our visitors and recognize the importance of the strong cultural ties promoted through the Sister Cities program,” Newberry said.
The international morning began in the Council Chamber, where University of Kentucky Opera Theatre student Mary Joy Nelson sang both the “Star-Spangled Banner” and “La Marseillaise,” and ended at the Courthouse Plaza. Newberry led the visitors in a parade down Main Street to the beat of Lafayette High School’s “Pride of the Bluegrass” Marching Band, as hundreds of Harrison Elementary students lined the route and waved French and American flags.
At city hall, Newberry and Deauville Vice Mayor Isabelle Patry-Santos signed a charter celebrating the 50th anniversary of one of the first Sister Cities bonds in the world, formed shortly after President Dwight Eisenhower created the program to help heal the wounds of World War II.
The charter stated, “As peoples of two of the world’s leading democracies, we are bound by our love of freedom. As international centers of the equine industry, we are bound by our love of the horse. As Sister Cities since Nov. 8, 1957, we are bound by a deep and abiding friendship.”
All of Lexington’s Sister Cities are prominent in the equine world. The program is designed to promote meaningful cultural exchange in areas such as education, business and the arts.
Representing France at the sign dedication ceremony at the Courthouse Plaza was Anne d’Ornano, President of Calvados, where Deauville is located. Also participating in the ceremony were Senan Griffin, Deputy Mayor of Kildare; Rory MacDonald, Newmarket, and Atsuko Tanioka, Shinhidaka.
The new sign, which lists the mileage to each of the Sister Cities, is located near the corner of Main and Limestone streets in the Courthouse Plaza.