Visit in Columbia

Trip to Columbia, IL from June 26th, 2002 to July 07th, 2002

Preliminary note: This trip had been planned for October, 2001. Because of 9/11, it was rescheduled.

On June 28th, 2002, 42 citizens of Gedern travelled to their sister city Columbia, IL. Parts of the group were a delegation of the Gedern firemen and the Seementaler Musikanten. After the bus had arrived at Frankfurt Airport, the group got into their plane and first went to Chicago, then to St. Louis. There it was welcomed by members of Sister Cities Columbia. A bus then took them all to Immaculate Connception School in Columbia. There the hosts welcomed their guests. After a little snack, the hosts took their guests home, while the firemen were taken to the fire house, where they spent their nights.

The next day began with a combined board meeting at 10 a.m. in the city hall. Here the board talked about the schedule for the next days. The rest of the day was then free for private activities, until at 6 p.m. the „King of Hearts“ welcome party started. After the official greeting by Ingrid Soraghan and by mayor Lester Schneider the participants could get to know others and talk to people they already knew. There was much to tell because the last visit had been almost two years earlier. Sister Cities Columbia had engaged a band with a great Elvis Presley impersonator. His performance was the evening’s highlight.

The Sunday was free during the day. In the evening the „Stemlerfest“ on Loretta and Homer Stemler’s property took place. A big suckling pig was grilled and the weather was beautiful. The last people left this very nice event at about 12 a.m.

On Monday, July 1st, a bus started from the firehouse. First  the house of Daniel Boone was visited. Daniel Boone (born on 11/02/1734 in Birdsboro, PA;  died 09/26/1820 in Defiance, MO) was an American pioneer who founded Boonesborough, KY. Boone’s parents emigrated from England in 1717 and settled down in Pennsylvania.

Then the tour led the group to Branson, MO. There the Stone Hill Winery Hermann was visited. It ended with a wine-tasting and temperatures of about 100 °F. At about 6 p.m. the group was back in Columbia.

On Tuesday the participants of the trip could go shopping in South County, before the firemen of Columbia had a party in the eveining. This night was a good symbol for the close connection between the two fire departments. After both fire chiefs, Klaus Neunert and Mike Roediger, had said something, the Seementaler Musikanten played both national anthems. Then the band played on for a few hours.

The next tour by bus was on Wednesday, July 3rd. It led the group to the „Alton Lock & Dam“. Then the group went to the Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis. After a long tour through the buildings, there was  some beer-tasting. The evening then was free for private activities.

July, 4th, Independence Day, was celebrated in the American Legion Park. The programm started at 11 a.m. There were several things to do during the whole day. From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. the Seementaler Musikanten played. When it had become dark, there were fireworks.

The Friday was almost completely free, so the participants could go shopping again or follow some invitations.

The big farewell party took place in the American Legion Hall. From 6 p.m. on the Seementaler Musikanten played. After about five hours the event ended and everybody went home to pack their bags.

On Sunday, July, 7th, the group went back to Germany. First everybody met at the Columbia firehouse to be taken to St. Louis Airport by bus. Saying goodbye was hard for everybody, since many new contacts had been made. Of course there were some tears, too. The flight home was without turbulences and on Monday morning the group landed at Frankfurt Airport and then was taken to Gedern by bus.

Translation by Jochen Bergheimer