Celebrating 50 years of Friendship and Cultural Exchange - Kami City, Japan, and City of Largo, Florida, USA
On November 8, visitors from Kami City, Japan arrived in the City of Largo to celebrate 50 years of international friendship and cultural exchange since the signing of a Sister City Agreement. In 1969, Lions Club representatives approached the Mayor of Largo with a proposal to sign a Sister City Agreement with Tosayamada, Japan. In July of that year, and with the help of Japanese Lions Club counterparts, the agreement was completed at a ceremonial signing in Tosayamada – renamed Kami City in 2006. Delegations from the two cities have traveled across the world many times to renew bonds, exchange gifts and share cultures. Largo High School and Tosayamada High School have also nurtured a special bond over the years.
The Largo Lions Club and City of Largo Japanese Friendship Committee planned a full schedule of events to introduce guests to the City and cultural activities around the region. Host families welcomed their Japanese visitors by exploring local attractions such as John's Pass where some guests got up close to live alligators. (Welcome to Florida!)
All guests celebrated at the Central Park Performing Arts Center Saturday evening for dinner hosted by the City of Largo. Overlooking Largo Central Park, guest enjoyed displays of past Sister City celebrations, as well as, a look back in time of photos from 1969-2018 documenting the memorable moments the two cities' communities have shared over the years.
The celebration of friendship included cultural performances by the Japanese visitors, a Florida local jazz band and a renaissance theater group. Mayors from both cities spoke about the importance of this anniversary to commemorate the cultural understanding between the two cities. Along with proclamations acknowledging each Japanese visitor as an honorary citizen of Largo, traditional gifts were exchanged including stained glass sculpture depicting local flora and fauna and a beautiful scroll inscribed with the word for "bond" in Japanese to commemorate the significance of the sister city connection.