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Anacortes Sister Cities Association (ASCA) started as a small group in 1991.
This group of individuals wanted to explore the possibility of establishing a formal relationship with a city in the newly opened USSR. Anacortes City Council and then Mayor Jim Rice worked with the group. Together they formulated, through Sister Cities International of Washington D.C., a relationship with Lomonosov, a coastal town near St. Petersburg.
That relationship was formalized when Mayor Doyle Geer and Doug Everhart, then president of ASCA, accompanied by a group of thirty-two Anacortes representatives traveled to Lomonosov. There they presented a letter of agreement to Alexander Rybin, chairman of the Lomonosov City Council and Edward Rjaobov head of administration. October 7, 1992 the agreement was signed.
Since that date there have been several Anacortes adult group trips to Lomonosov. Each trip included excursions to Moscow, St. Petersburg, and towns near Lomonosov. Our Anacortes people had the privilege of "home stays" with Russian families during these visits.
Anacortes has since hosted Lomonosov (Kalinka) Sister City groups here in Washington State. The musical Kazakovs were sponsored by ASCA and performed at the 2002 Anacortes Arts Festival. In 1996-97 ASCA hosted three Russian exchange students. They spent their senior year at Anacortes High School.
In 1995 at the initiative of Mayor Kon of Kisakata, Japan, Anacortes Mayor Doyle Geer and the Anacortes City Council, we added a second Sister City. That relationship led to 6th and 7th grade young people from Kisakata, Japan visiting Anacortes and staying in the homes of families here. Alternate summers Kisakata sponsored the young people of Anacortes who stay in the homes of Japanese families.
This relationship has resulted in the travel of several Kisakata adult groups to Anacortes who stay in the homes of our members, and a similar number of Anacortes groups to visit Kisakata. One of the highlights of the Kisakata program has been the visits of the Taiko Drummers to the Anacortes Arts Festival.
Our third Sister City, Sidney, B.C., Canada, was initiated in 1996. The Sidney relationship grew out of our mutual support of the Washington State Ferries international run between Anacortes and Sidney and our interest in their Town Crier program. Sidney's Mayor Marie Rosko and our Mayor Dean Maxwell, and the City Council finalized the initiative. Since that time we have been deeply involved in Town Crier events. Anacortes has appointed Judy Jewell as the official Town Crier of our city. With Sidney we sponsored several international competitions and one world competition at the Arts Festival in the year 2000.
The fourth and newest Sister City was formally added to Anacortes sponsorship in September of 2003. ASCA President Duane Clark with Don and Joyce Lapworth traveled to Croatia to meet with Vela Luka's Mayor Tonko Gougich. Ivan Mirosevic, the Vela Luka Sister Cities organizer, and other City officials accepted their offer of Sister City status as approved by both city councils.
Vela Luka is a beautiful harbor city of about 4,000 people at the West end of the Island of Korcula. The island rests in the warm azure blue, clear waters of the Adriatic on the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. Vela Luka and Croatia are the original home of a large segment of Anacortes families. Those families now support the Vela Luka Dance Ensemble and are very active in community affairs and the American-Croatian Club of Anacortes.