The sister city partnership between Büdingen in Hesse in west-central Germany and Tinley Park in Illinois has existed since 1989.
Büdingen has about 22,000 residents and is famous for its well-preserved Medieval town wall and its many half-timbered houses. Tinley Park has 57,000 residents and was named in 2009 as the “Best Place to Raise a Family” by Businessweek.
The sister city partnership began with the friendship between General Patrick Rhea, who was then stationed at the American forces headquarters in nearby Frankfurt, and Prince Ferdinand to Ysenburg and Büdingen, a younger brother of the current prince. But it was not only the Princely House that contributed to the formation of the partnership.
From 1949 to 2007 a number of American soldiers were stationed in Büdingen. What began in the army barracks is still shaping the partnership today: international understanding and cultural exchange. In 1989 these contacts resulted in the exchange of formal partnership documents. This partnership was enthusiastically promoted and maintained by Eberhard Bauner, mayor of Büdingen from 1982-1998, and Ed Zabrocki, who was mayor of Tinley Park until recently. Both signed the partnership agreements in Tinley Park in September 1989.
Since then well over a thousand people from both cities have visited their partner city, and many friendships are the product of this partnership. Every two years groups of citizens travel across the Atlantic alternately from Germany to America and vice versa.
Every two years since 2012 there has been a regular student Exchange between the Wolfgang-Ernst-Gymnasium in Büdingen and Andrew High School in Tinley Park.
The Büdinger Verschwisterungsverein and the Sister Cities Committee Tinley Park are committed to international understanding and cultural exchange. Oktoberfest is celebrated in Tinley Park; in Büdingen, Halloween. Before the withdrawal of the American troups, there were regular German-American friendship parties at the barracks and during the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Meanwhile, both sister clubs have new board members and, thanks to modern media, new ways to communicate. Every two to three months members of the two clubs skype with each other to plan and discuss their joint projects. This year in July American artists will enrich the Büdingen Cultural Night, and, in return, artists from Büdingen will be invited to exhibit and perform at the cultural center in Tinley Park. The Medieval Festival and the Christmas Market in Büdingen are also attractions that Büdingen's American friends enjoy. The exchange of country-specific recipes is another project that shows how lively, creative and versatile this “partnership with all senses” is.
For more on Büdingen visit https://www.buedingen.info/.
For more on Tinley Park check out http://www.tinleypark.org/.