Sister City program prepares to welcome French guests

Published: Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 09:36 AM.

“It’s great for our citizens to learn more about another country, its culture and traditions, as well as being available to our visitors to teach them about our American culture,” Mayor David Cadle said.

From the Noirmoutrins’ last visit, Cadle also had a cultural lesson, learning something about the French palate.

“The last time they visited, I hosted a fish fry for them but they were a little unsure about the grits, so we’re providing barbecue this time,” he said.

Sisters since 1995

Crestview and Noirmoutier united in 1995 under the auspices of Sister Cities International, part of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1950s citizen diplomacy initiative. Aileen Barley and her son Joe helped start Crestview’s participation in the program. Several area communities were vying to be chosen by Noirmoutier’s committee as their twin city.

“My mother and I were the first ones to go over there,” Joe Barley said. “Shalimar didn’t get it. Niceville didn’t get it. Fort Walton Beach didn’t get it. Crestview got it!”

He said the late Russell Sneddon, former director of the Air Force Armament Museum, was a driving force behind organizing a local Sister City organization. Once the Crestview City Council, spearheaded by late Councilman Sam Hayes, approved the partnership, an initial exchange of visitors was arranged. The French hospitality immediately captivated the local contingent.

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