Fourteen months after its formation, the Palm Springs Sister City Committee will welcome an official delegation from its first “Twinned City,” San Miguel de Allende, to Palm Springs Feb. 6-9. A signing ceremony will take place at Palm Springs City Hall at 10 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 8.
The colonial-era city in Mexico’s central highlands, with a population of around 60,000, is known for its baroque Spanish architecture, thriving arts scene and cultural festivals.
“This is our first new sister city, but will not be our last,” said Al Jones, chair of the Palm Springs Sister City Committee board of directors. “Our dedicated group of volunteers spent the last year researching potential international partner cities, and San Miguel is an ideal match. Its cultural, culinary, architectural and arts heritage is a perfect match for Palm Springs. We’re looking forward to meeting with the delegation and showing them the best of Palm Springs and making ties that are good for Palm Springs businesses and residents alike.”
The delegation from San Miguel arrives in Palm Springs on Monday, Feb. 6, for several days of face-to-face meetings and networking. On Tuesday, Feb. 7, following breakfast at Wilma & Frieda, the group will take a tour of Palm Springs landmarks and then visit the Cielo Vista Charter School. That will be followed by a presentation of San Miguel de Allende highlights and a lunch at the Palm Springs Convention Center, and then dinner at Eight4Nine Restaurant.
At 10 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 8, the mayor and members of the Palm Springs City Council will host an official signing ceremony at City Hall, followed by lunch with the mayor and Council Members at Lulu California Bistro and a tour of the Palm Springs Art Museum. The visit will conclude with a farewell dinner at Grand Central Palm Springs.
The genesis for the Palm Springs Sister City Committee came from Destination PSP owner and now City Councilmember Jeffrey Bernstein, who first presented his idea at a meeting of the Palm Springs City Council in 2019 just before the outbreak of COVID-19. Soon thereafter, Bernstein drew in the participation of other local business and community leaders who have spent the last year as an all-volunteer effort, organizing the group and joining Sister Cities International, the governing body for such civic partnerships. The board is now made up of Al Jones (president), Hugo Loyola (vice president), Andrea Davis (treasurer), Ellen Goodman (secretary), Gary Armstrong, Marlene V. Coulis, Sid Craig, Will Dean, Lauri Kibby, John Miraglia, Scott Nevins, David Eugene Perry and Deb Pierrel.
The delegation from San Miguel de Allende is led by Mayor Mauricio Trejo and Rafa Torres, City Council for San Miguel de Allende, along with Tania Castillo, director of Tourism for San Miguel de Allende. Other delegates include Hector Aguilar, Hotel Amatte; Lucero Alvarez, wedding planner; Alex Barrera; Carlo Gallardo, Wine Vineyard San Lucas; Javier Gordillo; Maria Jose, The One Percent Agency; Guillermo Nieto, Restaurant El Estoril; and Vianney Torres, Hotel Casa Hoyos.
“It thrills me to see this take shape,” said Bernstein, who resigned from the Sister City Board upon his election to City Council. “I’ve always been a believer in tourism as a way to boost economic and cultural ties. I know I share this enthusiasm with my fellow council members and we look forward to soon visiting San Miguel.”
The Palm Springs Sister City Committee is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity and receives no public funds. The work of the committee is completely self-funded through donations from the committee members and interested members of the public. Palm Springs Sister Cities was created with the purpose of enhancing world peace by promoting and servicing relationships between the city of Palm Springs and other similar government units in foreign countries with the object of developing closer understanding and cooperation between people of those respective governmental units. The group hopes to ensure a world of peace through goodwill, compassion, and helping other cultures.
At the heart of all Sister City programs is an agreement, signed by the mayors of each Sister City, confirming the commitment of each community to the Sister City program. Sister Cities agree to send and receive delegations of various types, including political and business leaders, arts and cultural representatives, educators, and technical experts because these exchanges promote cross-cultural understanding, municipal and technical cooperation, and business opportunities. Each Sister City is supported by a committee of volunteers who are committed to the goals and objectives of the program.
Palm Springs had a sister city relationship not only with Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but also with Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and Nikki, Japan.
This piece was submitted on behalf of the Palm Springs Sister Committee by David Perry.