Visit in Gedern

Visitors from Columbia to Gedern in 2003

The partnership of Columbia and Gedern was started ten years ago. This anniversary brought a group of 25 friends from Columbia, Illinois to Gedern from June 19th through June 29th, 2003. They were accompanied by a group of 24 students from Columbia High School, chaperoned by principal Dennis Patton and German teacher Joe Koester.

On June 21st about 350 persons came together in Mittel-Seemen’s Seementalhalle to celebrate this anniversary together with the Seementaler Musikanten, who had been together as a band for 35 years. In 1998 and in 2002 they were in Columbia, playing their music there and finding new fans.

Barbara Gundlach, then president of Sister Cities of Gedern-Columbia, could welcome many guests of honor: There were our friends from Columbia, led by Ingrid Soraghan, president of Sister Cities of Columbia-Gedern, and mayor Lester Schneider, mayor Gregorz Lipski from Polanow, Gedern’s sister city in Poland, and Kathleen Hennesy, vice consul of the US consulate in Frankfurt am Main. In her address she emphasized the importance of international partnerships.

Barbara Gundlach brought back memories of the beginning of our partnership. She summed up the last ten years saying, “If it had not been for our friends from Columbia to search for their roots here in Europe, we’d be much poorer having missed many fine hours.”

Many addresses and congratulations followed. The Gedern Big Band ­ they were in Columbia, too, in 1993 and in 1997 ­ and the Trachtengruppe Schlitz, a folk dance group performing in original local clothes, provided for entertainment.

June 23rd took the group to Michelstadt and Erbach in the Odenwald area, followed by wine sampling in Heppenheim. June 24th was a day for private excursions. Later that day everybody met in Gedern in the Schlosspark for an evening with music, played by the musical corps of the volunteer fire department of Hirzenhain. A lot of people were there, following the invitation by Gedern’s volunteer fire department and the Seementaler Musikanten, making this evening a success.

On June 25th the group visited Braunfels, sister city of New Braunfels, Texas, and the disused mine Fortuna. The brewery in Lich, home of the famous Licher Bier, was on the schedule for June 26th. The next two days were reserved for individual activities, giving plenty of time to see old friends and get to know new friends. On June 28th the big farewell party was held in the Festhalle of Wenings. People sat together for a long time, talking about their experiences of the visit. After a short night everybody came together again at 6:30 in the morning, for the departure of the Columbia group. With a lot of hugs they all agreed that they had spent a very good week together.

Sister Cities of Gedern-Columbia is planning to visit Columbia in the fall break of 2005. Details will be announced later.