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Spokane Dedicates Sister Cities Garden In Riverfront Park

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Just a week after the reopening of the renovated pavilion in Spokane’s Riverfront Park, the city on Friday dedicated another new feature in the park.

You can see the pavilion when you look northeast from the Sister Cities Connections Garden.

“As Riverfront Park was recreated and then renewed in the past few years, it’s been great for the city and the Park Board and the parks department to save us this small garden to preserve and enhance our city’s global space right here," said Chuck Rehberg, who is co-chair of the committee that developed the garden.

It sits just to the west of the Howard Street Promenade at the site of another Expo ’74 landmark, the Japanese Pavilion.

On Friday, bagpipes reminded visitors to the garden that Limerick, Ireland is one of Spokane’s five sister cities. Next year, Limerick and Spokane will celebrate their 30-year anniversary. The relationship kicked off in 1990 and delegations from both sides have visited the other. This time, Limerick Deputy Mayor Adam Teskey came to help dedicate the new garden.

“Other exchange highlights between both Limerick and Spokane over the years have included the dedication of the Spokane Walk along the beautiful and majestic River Shannon in Limerick. Faculty exchanges between Eastern Washington University and the University of Limerick, city employee exchanges and amateur theater exchanges," Teskey said.

As he spoke, he stood just a few feet away from one of the artistic features of the garden, a cabinet with a replica of an Irish harp, created by the late Spokane artist Paula Mary Turnbull. Visitors can push a button and hear some of the sounds that come from Ireland’s national symbols.

The Sister Cities Connections Garden sits at an appropriate spot in the park, just to the west of the Howard Street Promenade, where the Japanese pavilion was located during the Expo ’74 world’s fair. Nishinomiya, Japan is Spokane’s oldest sister city.

“As a matter of fact, the agreement between Spokane and Nishinomiya was signed on September 13, 1961," said former Mayor David Rodgers.

Credit Doug Nadvornick/SPR
This miniature replica of the Imazu Lighthouse, located near Nishinomiya, is a feature of the new Sister Cities garden in Riverfront Park.

The relationship between the two cities is symbolized by a miniature replica of the Imazu Lighthouse, which is located near Nishinomiya. That replica sits at the south end of the garden.

Some of Spokane’s sister city relationships feature student exchanges. Amaya Martin went to Nishinomiya last summer.

“Aside from improving my Japanese, I got to experience everyday mundane life alongside a welcoming host family," Martin said. "I thought I had a world view until I actually went out to view the world. The vast language barrier allowed for a deeper observation of what was happening around me. I witnessed incredible ancient traditions that have persisted despite the age of modernization. It was really great to bond with a family of a completely different background and I was surprised at how easy it was to feel right at home.”

The new garden features landscaping and a paved path that includes blue and green stones.

Spokane has three other sister cities, Jecheon, South Korea; Cagli, Italy and Jilin City, China. Artwork from those municipalities will be added to the garden later.

The garden also features the city’s link to the Salish Tribes, which occupied this land before settlers came here in the 19th century. The drummers and singers come from Spokane’s Salish School.

The third piece of art in the garden is a colorful symbol of a salmon, the fish that once swam in the Spokane River, noted by Chuck Rehberg.

“The kokanee steel sculpture reminds us of the rivers that connect us, the Native lands and the many Salish who fished and met here so long ago,” he said.

Syvana Atwood is a student who visited Cagli, Italy.

“Connections is dedicated to peace and all those who welcome others so that, one day, we will understand and not fear those who are different from ourselves. Thank you all so much for attending,” he said.