It was a family reunion of sorts Friday for the city of Schenectady.
Mayor Gary McCarthy led a local delegation to the Netherlands, where they visited Schenectady’s sister city, Nijkerk, which is celebrating its 600th birthday. The trip is for two weeks and will be followed by a visit by their citizens at the end of July.
A formal ceremony was held Friday to cement the relationship, which dates back to 1630, when Arendt Van Curler of Nijkerk, set up a trading post that would eventually become Schenectady.
The timing of the visit made things extra special for the delegation, McCarthy said in an email.
“I’m touched by the outpouring of both generosity and camaraderie by our friends in Nijkerk,” he said. “We are thousands of miles from home, and Mayor [Gerard] Renkema and this community have welcomed us with open arms and have opened their homes to make our visit here comfortable and educational.”
According to a news release, most of the approximately three-dozen Americans who made the trip are staying with host families in the city. McCarthy said the residents are making them feel at home, which has been aided by the ability to talk and joke easily since everyone is fluent in English.
Additionally, the active relationship between the cities for the past 30 years has ensured that people in Nijkerk are familiar with Schenectady and the Capital Region, including knowledge of area attractions like the Saratoga Race Course and Lake George. McCarthy said Nijkerk residents who have visited Schenectady talked about specific buildings in the Stockade and asked about friends in Schenectady who didn’t make the trip.
The city is quaint, picturesque and has a friendly community, he added, encouraging people in Schenectady County to visit Nijkerk if they get a chance.
“This has really been a tremendous opportunity, and I’m extremely proud to be able to represent Schenectady,” McCarthy said. “I’d say my favorite part of the trip was the formal signing of the resolution binding our two cities and marching in the parade that followed that ceremony, which took us from Nijkerk’s City Hall through its downtown and into the market square for a reception with the community here.”
Regarding the upcoming visit of Nijkerk’s youth on July 25, McCarthy said he hopes visitors are welcomed by Schenectady with the same warmth they have received so far.
Learn more about the relationship between the two cities by going to www.schenectadynijkerk.org and watch a video of the formal reunion on the Capital Region Scene blog at www.dailygazette.com.