Ballina Mayor Michael Smyth will be taking in a Berkshires Fourth of July.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — At 5 a.m. this morning Michael Smyth was out for a run in downtown Pittsfield.
He was looking at the architecture on the buildings, noticed the theaters, and noticed some challenges.
"I can see that the same challenges faced by our community are faced by your community," Smyth said.
Smyth was just recently elected as mayor of Ballina, Ireland - Pittsfield's sister city. Here for less than 24 hours, Smyth took note of the churches and theaters throughout the city's downtown and it made an impression on the 45-year-old.
"It has made for a culturally diverse community that you have here. That's really, really important. You should be commended for that," Smyth said.
Mayor Linda Tyer said his remarks serve as a reminder of the positives the city has, positives that can often be overlooked for those who live here.
"It reminds me that we live in a very special place. We should honor, respect it, and celebrate it every opportunity we have," Tyer said.
He had flown in on Monday and plans to take in a Berkshires Fourth of July, including a visit to Tanglewood Tuesday night and then marching in the Pittsfield parade in the morning.
"It is most fitting that Mayor Michael Smyth is here to march in our Moments that made America parade," Anne Gagnon, of the Sister City Committee, said.
Both cities were given certificates honoring the anniversary.
Smyth's visit marks the 20th anniversary of the partnership between the two cities. According to Gagnon, the agreement was signed by former Mayor Gerald Doyle in 1998. The following year was the first exchange between Ballina and Pittsfield.
Pat Gormley of the Pittsfield Sister City Commission read a proclamation by the Sister Cities International honoring the anniversary. He provided framed copies of a certificate to both mayors. Tyer then read her own proclamation honoring the occasion.
Groups from Ballina routinely take trips to Pittsfield, where they are greeted by local officials. Typically a small ceremony is held welcoming the visitors and there is a traditional exchanging of gifts. Routinely, local residents take a trip to Ballina.
The local sister city committee helps build that relationship with not only Ballina but also cities in Italy, Nicaragua, and South Korea.
"To me, there is nothing more important than these international exchanges that we have with our friends," Tyer said.
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