Ratification Ceremony Highlight of 50th Anniversary Santa Barbara/Puerto Vallarta Celebration
By Bonnie Carroll
On December 6, 2022, members of the Santa Barbara/Puerto Vallarta Sister Cities Committee attending the Santa Barbara/Puerto Vallarta (SB/PB) 50th Anniversary in Puerto Vallarta met at Puerto Vallarta City Hall to sign the ratification of their original sister city agreement. Santa Barbara President Sebastian Aldana, Jr., Mayor Luis Alberto Michel and Puerto Vallarta Sister City President Irma Lorena Perez Copado all spoke, signed the official documents, and proudly displayed them for all to see. Unveiling, and presentation of 50th Anniversary plaque to the Mayor of Puerto Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta Sister City members.
“Only brotherhood and fraternity are capable of awakening the deepest values in humanity and that is precisely what we are celebrating on this occasion, a brotherhood of half a century with our family from Santa Barbara, California,” said Mayor Michel.
He recalled that 50 years have passed since this Sister Cities Committee began in 1972, and that it brought with it great contributions to Puerto Vallarta, such as the Santa Bárbara rehabilitation clinic, the hyperbaric chamber (one of the three that existed in the country at that time), the dolphins fountain on the Malecon, the exchange program between the police corporations of both cities that is still in force, more donations, the construction of libraries, support for the Fire Department and much more from our generous sister.
Santa Barbara North Rotary President Marty Garcia rings call to order with Puerto Vallarta Rotary President Jesus Guerrero during International Rotary Meeting at Puerto Vallarta Marriott Hotel. (Photo: Bonnie Carroll)
“Today, as we renew this twinning, I am sure that we will continue to find that strong spirit to add to our progress, and together we will continue knocking on doors and generating resources for the benefit of Puerto Vallarta and Santa Bárbara. Today we once again make the commitment to continue strengthening the noble brotherhood of our beautiful cities. Congratulations on these 50 years of being Puerto Vallarta – Santa Barbara Sister Cities. Let’s go for another 50! Vallarta has its doors open,” Mayor Michel exclaimed.
President of the Puerto Vallarta Sister Cities Committee, Irma Lorena Pérez Copado, said that for five decades there have been “historically exciting and challenging moments, building a stronger and more lasting understanding. We have achieved a greater understanding and appreciation of our cultures. There have been many notable events, including numerous back and forth exchanges, of social and economic impact. We wish our cities and associations a continuous, close, and fruitful relationship, which can contribute to building world peace.” The president of the Santa Barbara Sister Cities Committee, Sebastián Aldana Jr., repeated the same message in English.
Father Larry Gosselin of Santa Barbara Mission was present to give a blessing and share the historic importance of the ongoing sister city relationship as well as commend the special friendships the committee has garnered throughout the past fifty years. The official document signing was followed by a light dinner and a fun social hour.
Welcome Breakfast SB guests being hosted by PV Sister City at Senior Frogs Restaurant (Photo: Bonnie Carroll)
This historic evening was just one of many special events celebrating the 50th SB/PV Anniversary. It was preceded and followed by numerous events that included a welcome buffet dinner at Los Arcos Hotel upon arrival, a welcome breakfast at Senior Frogs on the Malecon hosted by the Puerto Vallarta Sister City members the next morning. The remarkable Rotary Club of Puerto Vallarta Sur Breakfast at the Marriott Hotel, where special honors were presented to members including Marti Garcia, President of Santa Barbara Rotary North and a presentation of donation checks to select organizations sponsored by the Puerto Vallarta, Santa Barbara Rotary North, and Santa Barbara Sunset Rotary. Beautifully framed prints of the Four Pillars were also displayed and discussed. The Four Pillars, Respect, Friendship, Brotherhood, and Love are symbols of the support of an enduring Sister Cities Relationship.
Members also visited The Volcanes Educational Center and Sewing School, which offered some smart fashion items and home designs made by the students that were very attractive, and many were purchased by our visiting committee members. The purpose of this project is to provide vocational training for mothers so they can produce, sell, and earn money to feed and buy school supplies and school uniforms for their children. The Educational Center provides education for children of varied ages and is a renowned organization headed up by Art Fumerton. The manners, charm and intelligence of the students we met were remarkable.
Art students at Volcanes Educational Center participate in the annual ‘I Madonnari’ Chalk Art Festival which began in 2005 and is held in November each year. It is sponsored by the Puerto Vallarta/Santa Barbara Sister Cities Committee, organizer of this prestigious event. First prize in the adult category is an all-expense paid trip to Santa Barbara, where they represent Puerto Vallarta in the Sister City’s – I Madonnari Festival, held at the end of May each year in Santa Barbara. For an opportunity to learn of the varied educational or provide sponsorships visit: https://english1international.com/volcanes-english-program/.
SB/PV members visited the Botanical Garden, enjoyed dinner at Punta Arenas Restaurant hosted by a Puerto Vallarta member, and enjoyed a lovely cocktail hour at the Puerto Vallarta Art Museum where an extensive exhibition of artwork by Javier Nino was on display and members had an opportunity to talk with the artists during the courtyard gathering and visit the museum gift shoppe.
The Playa Los Arcos 50th Anniversary dinner was a dream sequence on the beach, with beautiful table settings, and a magical sunset that began with the annual release of the baby sea turtles. The honored guests who took their places at the table of honor included a lineup of esteemed and long-time members of SB/PV.
SB/PV 50th Anniversary Bench in Parque De LosAzulejos, designed by SB Artist Anne Hefferman (Photo: Bonnie Carroll)
The Pilgrimage to Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe Church is a highlight of the Sister City events and this year was no exception. Guests at Los Across Hotel marched to the Cathedral wearing all white, following joyful musicians and dancers along the route. It is a very beautiful sight and many longtime SB/PV members participating said the experience was something they looked forward to each year.
The 50th Anniversary dinner dance at the Puerto Vallarta Naval Base, which included awards and honors, was preceded by a visit to the hyperbolic chamber on site with a historic video. The Naval staff were charming, as was a spectacular performance by an international singing duet, and the after-dinner dancing featured flashing lights and a fun time was had by all.
Everyone enjoyed gathering in Parque de Los Azulejos (tile bench park) for the viewing of the beautiful Santa Barbara/Puerto Vallarta bench designed by artist Anne Hefferman to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our Sister Cities, and sponsored by caring SB/PV members.
Muchas gracias to all our gracious hosts and friends in Puerto Vallarta for this memorable visit, and to all our Santa Barbara board of directors including Alma Vaja, Mike Hernandez, Tony De Paco, Araceli hidalgo, Craig Arcuri, Alicia Sorkin, Sebastian Aldana and Gil Garcia. Special thanks to Margaret Saaveda who provided a bevy of interesting additional excursions for members enjoyment including a city tour, tequila tasting, El Eden tour and Ritmo de la Noche experience that was quite exciting. Congratulations to all on a very memorable 50th SB/PV Anniversary!
About Sister Cities:
Santa Barbara Sister Cities, a People-to-People Program, initiated by President Eisenhower in 1956, promotes the friendship of people regardless of race, creed, or color, by the establishment of Sister Cities. The Program offers each community, its citizens, its organizations, and the city itself a chance to participate in the fascinating and rewarding field of international relations. There is also a humanitarian opportunity to be involved in the constructive process of building world peace. Language, art, ideas, music, youth programs, and dozens of other activities can be carried out by any person or organization in the community. By truly gaining a respect and understanding of our culture, we can begin to see the world and its many cultures as less confusing and more cohesive, and we begin to see ourselves better. There are personal, municipal, and national reasons for joining this unique and exciting movement that offers active participation in the building of a friendlier world. https://santabarbaraca.gov/sister-cities-board/sister-cities
The mission of Sister Cities International is to promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation one individual, one community at a time. Their mission reflects a belief in the power of personal connections. Since their inception in 1956, Sister Cities international has worked to create global relationships based on cultural, educational, information and trade exchanges. The result? Participants developed lifelong friendships that provide prosperity and peace through person-to-person “citizen diplomacy.” Today, they continue to expand their reach and strengthen existing relationships. Members boast exchanges in arts and culture, business and trade, youth education, and community development that not only bring them friendship, but help them to tackle the world’s most pressing issues at the local level. https://sistercities.org/