Omaha adds another Sister City in Carlentini, Sicily

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 12:07 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Omaha’s Mayor Jean Stothert signed another Sister City Friendship Agreement on Wednesday, this time with the mayor of Carlentini, Sicily.

The virtual signing ceremony, held at the Durham Western Heritage Museum, is the first step towards becoming Sister Cities in the future. The museum location was used to recognize the Union Pacific Railroad as an employer for many of the first Carlentini immigrants.

“Union Station is a National Historic Landmark and a symbol of the railroad’s important role in the history of Omaha and the people or Carlentini. The early Carlentini population led to the development of Omaha’s Little Italy neighborhood with family-owned restaurants, shops, food markets, and small businesses, just a few blocks from where we are today.”

Mayor Jean Stothert, Honorary Chair of the Omaha Sister Cities Association

Immigrants first arrived in Omaha over 100 years ago.

“I know this story well, my paternal grandparents were among those immigrants. They left a small hill town in southern Italy and came to Omaha via New York where they married, and Philadelphia, where the first two of their nine children were born. My Nana insisted that she and my grandfather stay in Omaha and raise their family here. Omaha was now her home. I’m forever glad they chose to stay.”

Celann LaGreca, Chair of the Omaha Sister Cities Association Carlentini Committee

The Sister City Friendship Agreement provides opportunities for cultural, educational, and business partnerships. It is the first step that can lead to a formal Sister City agreement and the Omaha City Council approved the resolution to support the agreement on Sept. 14.

Three Italian heritage organizations in Omaha worked for nearly a year to help lay the groundwork for this agreement - the American Italian Heritage Society, the Santa Lucia Festival Committee, and the Orders of the Sons and Daughters of Italy. These three organizations formed the Sicula Italia Foundation, a nonprofit with the goal of bringing these two cities together.

Carlentini is a city in the Province of Syracuse, Sicily, with a population nearly 17,000 people. Their mayor, Giuseppe Stefio, labeled the agreement as “true and unconditional friendship.”

“It is a great honor and a great emotion to represent the citizens of Carlentini on this historic day to link the cities of Omaha and Carlentini,” said Mayor Stefio.

Mayor Stothert says a great distance separates these two communities but a great friendship connects them.

“Omaha is proud of our strong ties to Carlentini. Friendship is said to be the world’s greatest treasure, today, we begin many years of friendship,” said Mayor Stothert.

Omaha currently has six other sister cities:

  • Shizuoka, Japan
  • Braunschweig, Germany
  • Siauliai, Lithuania
  • Naas, Ireland
  • Xalapa, Mexico
  • Yantai, China

In 2019, a Friendship Agreement was also signed with Isigny-Omaha Intercom.

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