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Sarasota, on Florida’s Cultural Coast is home to the greatest concentration of natural beauty, art museums and galleries; an abundance of theaters; performing halls featuring orchestra, opera, choruses; film production, and educational centers that make this remarkable city an important venue of creativity. The wealth of cultural resources and creativity in Sarasota match well with the diversity of our sister cities relationships that began in 1963 in response to President Dwight Eisenhower’s vision to enhance worldwide understanding one handshake at a time. Sarasota’s citizen diplomats are involved daily in sister city outreach building bridges toward world peace.
In 2002, Sister Cities International awarded the Sarasota Sister City Association a best “overall achievement” award in bringing together all of our sister cities into a three-dimensional relationship.
To celebrate Sarasota’s Centenary and also sign the Dunfermline twinning, members from all cities, many of them participating in home stays, gathered in Sarasota to get to know one another. The City of Sarasota, under the aegis of former president Hope Byrnes, has planted a tree for every Sister City where they can be enjoyed on the Island Walk in Bay Front Park.
Also at the beginning of the walk is a beautiful, hand-tiled sign, crafted and donated by the students and teachers of Englewood Elementary School and dedicated to our newest Sister City of Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico
Santo Domingo—Our First Sister CityDallas Dort founded the first chapter of Sister Cities with a Sarasota-Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic twinning in 1963, after a robust relationship had already developed. Unfortunately, a military coup in late 1963 installed a junta that was eventually overthrown, but the relationship was adversely affected. Wells Purmort, a long-term member accepted the presidency in 1976 spurring activities that incorporated baseball tournaments involving Sarasota, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and Santo Domingo. Other exchanges during this period involved Scout organizations, Rotary, Kiwanis, aid to Santo Domingo after a devastating hurricane, and introductions to business people. Santo Domingo was given emeritus status in 2002, and today they enjoy a fruitful Sister City relationship with Miami and New York City.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada—Our Oldest Active Sister CityIn 1990 Sarasota twinned with Hamilton, Ontario, Canada to encourage more visitors to Sarasota and to build good will with our neighbors to the North. Hamilton Mayor Bob Morrow was instrumental in initiating the twinning. Hamilton boasts a diversity that combines education, culture and sightseeing attractions with business and commerce, especially steel manufacturing.
We have exchanged American Legion baseball teams, TV news anchors, student video camps, arts, cultural, plus historical, horticulture and marine interests through Spanish Point, Selby Gardens and Mote Marine. Hamilton is home to world class McMaster University, the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Nautical Institute and the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Hamilton and Sarasota have exchanged television news anchors, hosted the John Laing Singers and celebrated the 20th year anniversary of the Sister City relationship with Hamilton by hosting the volunteers from Hamilton’s Westfield Heritage Village at Sarasota’s historic Spanish Point. Hamilton businesses also participate in the Sarasota-Manatee Trade Show.