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Santa Barbara/Puerto Vallarta: 40 Years as Sister Cities

June 10, 2013

Santa Barbara, California - On Thursday, June 6th a Proclamation Ceremony at the County Courthouse, followed by a lively celebration at the University Club marked the 40 year anniversary of the Santa Barbara - Puerto Vallarta Sister City relationship. Representatives from both cities attended the ceremony, where gifts and resolutions were exchanged.

Established in 1972 through the efforts of local city officials and interested citizens, the Santa Barbara/Puerto Vallarta Sister City Committee program is a direct cultural and social exchange between Santa Barbara, California, USA and Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico.

Around twenty-five individuals from Puerto Vallarta traveled to Santa Barbara for an 8-day visit to their sister city, which, in addition to the anniversary ceremony, boasts a full schedule of events including board meetings, special city tours, dinners, a Gala Dinner Dance, and a Luau at Ledbetter Beach Park before they head back to Vallarta on June 11th.

Initiated in 1956 by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Sister City Program is a dedication of friendship and understanding between peoples of different cultures and attitudes. To those engaged in the program it is discovery, it is adventure, it is a new dimension of self-awareness, and awareness of others... and it is FUN!

In the June 2013 Santa Barbara Sister City Association's newsletter, Blas M. Garza wrote:

"This [trip] is that rare opportunity to glance back over the past 40 years to review our commitments to our association with Puerto Vallarta. The fact that we still maintain strong ties with that community is an indication that the bonds between our two cities, our quest for international peace, and people to people diplomacy are the correct way to advance humanity. The fact that we are celebrating our 40th Anniversary has given us a chance to reflect on this great relationship. Recently I heard from Dan O’Keefe who informed me that it was his father, Daniel Laurin O’Keefe, who donated the 1952 Mack Fire Truck through our organization to Puerto Vallarta. Since then, we’ve donated another fire truck, several ambulances, medical equipment and many other gifts to the Puerto Vallarta community."

At present, the Santa Barbara/Puerto Vallarta Sister City Committee has the largest membership of all the Santa Barbara Sister Cities. Over the years, exchanges of all types have taken place between the two cities, including cultural exchanges, police training exchanges, and high school student exchanges.