LOCKPORT — The city of Lockport embraced its Italian heritage Friday when Mayor Steven Streit forged an alliance with the mayor of Asiago, Italy.
More than 20 residents gathered at the Lockport City Council chambers to witness the two cities become sisters in accordance with Sister Cities International. The mayors of both areas read and signed a declaration.
Many of the residents who attended could trace their roots to Asiago, which is located in northern Italy and more than 4,000 miles away from Lockport.
“Everything is relationships,” Streit said. “The more relationships you have, the more opportunities there are. And we look forward to this one.”
It’s a relationship that will result in student exchange programs, field trips and trading ideas on technology and commerce, Streit said.
On Friday, city officials from both communities connected through Skype.
Sitting in on the call for Lockport was Streit, resident Patti Pastore and several city council members. Joining them in Asiago was Mayor Roberto Rigoni Stern and Pastore’s cousin Francesco Fracaro, who served as a translator.
Perched above residents inside Lockport council chambers were TV screens showing a live feed of Asiago city officials and people. While the sister city pact was happening closer to lunch time for Lockport, for Asiago it was 7 p.m.
Stern thanked Lockport for wanting to start a sister city partnership. He said he hopes the arrangement will give Lockport residents some opportunities to experience Asiago.
“We are building a brighter future,” Stern said.
He apologized for his English but Streit joked it was “way better than my Italian.”
Fracaro asked if there were many Lockport residents with roots in Asiago. Streit said it wasn’t a majority but it was a “very healthy minority.” He encouraged those with Asiago heritage in the audience to stand up, which was most of those in attendance.
It was Lockport’s Asiago roots that inspired Patti Pastore to create a sister city pact between the two communities. In her visits to Asiago in the past, she noticed many names of people and places were similar to those in Lockport.
While she worked with other residents to encourage the partnership in Lockport, her cousin Fracaro helped coordinate it in Italy, she said.
Friday represented the culmination of more than a year of work on the project.
“The ball has only begun to roll. I have so many ideas… this was a big accomplishment, especially when they’re so many miles away,” Pastore said.