There won't be an official delegation from the city of Leavenworth's sister city Wagga Wagga, Australia, this year as scheduled.
But the city this week did host some visitors from the New South Wales town that for 51 years has been one of Leavenworth's two sister cities, along with Omihachiman, Japan.
Greg, Julieann, Belinda and Scott Clark were staying with the city's Sister Cities Advisory Board member and Wagga Wagga visitor Maxine Hunter in the midst of a monthlong trip through the western United States. They stopped in to Leavenworth this week to see for the first time the place Greg and Julie's daughter, 2009 Wagga Wagga Community Princess Nikola Clark, had once visited.
Greg said there are obvious differences between the two places, to be sure, but something shared, as well.
“We're not that different, although we live in the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere,” he said. “We've still got this great ability to share.”
Though they were a sort of “unofficial delegation,” the Clark family were still scheduled to visit with city leaders, view historical sites and tour Fort Leavenworth during their visit.
“We've always been very interested in history,” Greg said. “I really want to find out a bit more about the Civil War.”
They've also had a look at the other side of the sister city relationship between their home and Leavenworth. Greg said they've been impressed by the way Leavenworth seems to value its connection to Wagga Wagga, a relationship that is apparent from the moment they entered the city.
“We were blown away to see the sign,” he said, referring to the welcome sign on Fourth Street near the southern border of the city. “That made it feel like home.”
For years, Greg said the family had seen one side of the ongoing sister city partnership, with the winner of the annual Wagga Wagga Quest, Miss Wagga Wagga, and the city's community princess. To see the other side of the fence, so to speak, was eye-opening.
“I think that was important to me, because I think we've finished the circle now,” Greg said.
Hunter said the official Wagga Wagga delegation was scheduled to visit next year.
“I think it's something that needs to keep going,” Greg said.
Julieann said their visit is also the beginning of a tradition.
“We'll be back,” she said.