Visitors from one of Leavenworth’s sister cities are scheduled to be in town this weekend.
And the visitors from Omihachiman, Japan, will be participating in various activities today and Sunday including an event called the Witches Ball, according to Connie Hachenberg, director of the Leavenworth Convention and Visitors Bureau.
She said Leavenworth’s sister city committee has been helping with the planning for the visit.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the sister city relationship between Leavenworth and Omihachiman, which also is sometimes called a brother city.
Hachenberg said more than 20 people will be in the tour group that’s visiting from Japan. Not all of them are necessarily from Omihachiman.
“There will be a quite a few,” she said.
She said the reason people from Japan generally make this type of visit to Leavenworth is out of respect for William Merrell Vories.
Vories was born in Leavenworth in 1880. He traveled to Omihachiman in the early 1900s where he did missionary work and established the Omi Brotherhood. He died in 1964. The following year, he was made the first honorary citizen of Omihachiman, according to a website for the William Merrell Vories Library.
While in Leavenworth, the visitors from the sister city will stop at the house that is the birthplace of Vories. Hachenberg said the home is located at Fifth Avenue.
They also will be attending a Sunday service at the First Presbyterian Church. Hachenberg said Vories’ parents had a connection to the church.
The tour group is scheduled to arrive in Leavenworth this afternoon. Other activities on their itinerary include attending tonight’s Witches Ball in downtown Leavenworth.
Hachenberg said she doesn’t know if any of them will dress in costume for the event but they’re aware of what it is.
“I have masks that I bought for everybody,” she said.
The sister city visitors also will have dinner this evening with the Leavenworth mayor and other members of the City Commission. Hachenberg said there will be an exchange of gifts.
Other activities will include shopping downtown and visiting local museums.
The visitors from Omihachiman are scheduled to leave early Monday morning.
Leavenworth has another sister city, Wagga Wagga, Australia. The sister city relationship between these two cities is marking its 50th anniversary this year.