A group of 20 area residents, including firefighters, will visit Washington’s sister city, Marbach am Neckar, Germany, this May.
The delegation will participate in Marbach’s celebration of its fire department’s 150th anniversary.
Since the sister city program began, the Washington Volunteer Fire Department and the Marbach am Neckar Fire Department have gotten along “famously,” said Jim Roman, a volunteer firefighter who is organizing the trip.
“This is a pretty big event for Marbach,” Roman said.
Those making the trip to Marbach am Neckar include Pat and Gail Placke, Jim and Patti Roman, Allen and Becky Vogt, Gary and Mayor Sandy Lucy, Jim and Betty Peters, Blake Marquart and Alice Daugherty, Ben and Kelsey Breitenbach, Buzz Eckelkamp, Mark and Joyce Wessels, Terry and Jeanne Sullentrup and Fire Chief Bill Halmich.
“Marbach is looking very much forward to meeting our mayor,” Roman said, noting that it’s been more than 10 years since a mayor has visited the city.
During their visit, participants will attend a welcome dinner, go on sightseeing tours which will include visiting a castle in Stuttgart and a Porsche museum. They also will attend the fire department celebration.
“The German people in Marbach are so friendly and go so far out of their way to make sure we all have a good time,” Roman said.
The Washington Fire Department celebrated its 150th anniversary 10 years ago, in 2002, and representatives of the Marbach Fire Department visited at that time.
When the Washington fire department celebrated its anniversary, Marbach visitors brought a sign that said “Marbach Drive.” The street adjacent to the fire station headquarters was subsequently named Marbach Drive to honor the friendship.
When Washington visitors went to Marbach to help them dedicate their new firehouse, a sign that read “Washington Strasse” was given to the fire department.
However, because street naming is more difficult in Marbach, it took several years to get the street renamed. Marbach residents petitioned the town to get the street named after Washington.
“It was very unusual for there to be an English or American name given to a street,” Roman said. “But now there’s a real city street sign up for Washington Strasse.”
Like Washington, the Marbach fire department also is volunteer based.
“We know how important the history of our fire department has been over the years and we couldn’t have accomplished the things that our department has accomplished without a strong yearly department presence,” Roman said. “I think the fire departments realize that it’s a big deal to honor the number of years that the department has been organized.”
The Washington Fire Department will present an honorary granite plaque to the Marbach fire department during the celebration.
No city funds are being used to finance the trip.