The historical tie between the cities began in 1638 when the ship Kalmar Nyckel brought the first Europeans to the area that is now Wilmington. In 1963, on the 325th anniversary of that landing, the two cities began a Sister Cities relationship. The State of Delaware has since built a full-scale sailing replica of the Kalmar Nyckel and, in May 2013, Wilmington hosted a Kalmar delegation to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their Sister Cities affiliation. Over the years, this successful twinning has fostered many long-lasting friendships with frequent exchanges in the areas of education, history, music, art, sports, and economic development.
Feeling that there were enough similarities to make a bond attractive, Watford invited Mayor Daniel S. Frawley and a Wilmington delegation to the city in 1985. A subsequent visit by members of the Watford 36-member borough council in the spring of 1986 led to this twinning. Regular exchanges of educational, sports, art, and cultural delegations have made this an exciting Sister Cities relationship.
When the “Fulda Garrison” closed in 1993, the city looked for ways to continue its half-century of German-American friendship. Fulda Lord Mayor Dr. Wolfgang Hamberger visited Wilmington in September 1995 to propose a Sister Cities relationship. He and Mayor James H. Sills led exchange delegations, and in October 1997 finalized the affiliation. Further exchanges have included high school and university students, contemporary visual artists, runners, and jazz and classical musicians, with the Wilmington Children’s Chorus hosting the exchange visit of the Fulda Youth Chamber Orchestra in August 2013.
The Yoruba culture is significant to Wilmington’s majority African-American community, many of whom trace their ancestry to Nigeria. The Wilmington Friends of Africa (WFA) first proposed the affiliation in 1999, and Chairman Mudasiru Aresa of the Osogbo Local Government led the official delegation to Wilmington in October 2001. Under Mayor James M. Baker, the return Wilmington delegation visited Osogbo in June 2002 and finalized the affiliation. An ongoing activity has been the recreation of Osogbo’s annual Osun Festival on our own Brandywine River, beginning in 2002. In 2013, Wilmington completed a Sister Cities International African Urban Poverty Alleviation Program (AUPAP) grant, from the Bill and Mellnda Gates Foundation, to develop 29 boreholes providing clean, reliable water throughout Osogbo.
OLEVANO SUL TUSCIANO, ITALY
The Wilmington/Olevano Committee initiated the link with our Italian Sister City affiliation. Many local area residents trace their ancestry to the town through documentation at the Ellis Island Museum. Their forebears left Olevano in the late 19th century and settled in western Wilmington, where they contributed to the development of a vibrant Italian-American community. Today, their strong political, cultural, and economic influence, including the importation of olive oil, is felt throughout the City, and beyond. Sr. Adriano Ciancio, President of the Olevano Pro Loco, represented Mayor Rosa Maria Falasca in leading a delegation to Wilmington in October 2002, which representatives of Mayor Baker returned in 2003. Annual series of successful educational, cultural, and commercial exchanges have followed; and, under now-Mayor Ciancio, Olevano has since conferred honorary citizenship upon both Sister Cities of Wilmington Vice President Mary Ann Bogino and Mayor Baker, for their organization and support of the exchanges.
Several successful Delaware Department of Education language exchanges, both virtual and personal, with Nemours led Madame le Maire Valérie LaCroute to suggest a Sister Cities relationship with Wilmington. A WilmingtonNemours project committee recruited various representatives from education, arts and culture, as well as DuPont legacy institutions like the Delaware Art Museum, Hagley Museum, and the Nemours Mansion and Gardens to develop the affiliation. Maire LaCroute led a delegation to Wilmington in May 2010, which was returned by Mayor Baker's administration the next year; and the affiliation was confirmed. The first visits have featured cultural, educational, and economic development activities.