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ST. MARYS — A local city officially welcomed its visitors during an annual event Monday afternoon.
The city of St. Marys welcomed six visitors from Germany to its city during a lunch with city administration, as part of the annual German visit to St. Marys through the St. Marys-Lienen Sister City Organization.
“I welcome you to St. Marys, Ohio, U.S.A.,” Mayor Greg Freewalt told the six Germans at the city building. “We certainly welcome you here.”
The visitors included Marie Christin Vogt, Mona Richter, Friederike Holtmann and Saskia Lutterbeck, who will be visiting St. Marys until Aug. 20, along with Julia Hau, 15, who will be staying for a year, and Heimke Tewes, their chaperone, who will be heading back to Germany soon.
“We got here last Sunday,” Tewes told Freewalt when he asked where all the group had seen so far. “We’ve been to Washington, D.C., and New York.”
Before their lunch with the city, the group toured the high school.
“The school is wonderful, amazing,” Tewes said. “There’s no comparison there to the schools in Germany.”
The group also noted they have been enjoying the weather.
“In Germany it’s been very cold, so we’re enjoying the weather here,” Holtmann noted.
Freewalt asked the group what they had seen in St. Marys since they’ve been in town.
“We saw the huge lake,” Holtmann said.
St. Marys-Lienen Sister City Organization President Kathy Langsdon noted activities on Grand Lake St. Marys weren’t scheduled for the group this year.
“They can go with their host families if they want,” she said.
When Freewalt was told the group will be staying until the end of August, he noted an annual festival they will be able to see while in town.
“You will be here to see SummerFest, then,” he said.
“They’re going to be in the parade,” Langsdon noted.
She added some of the other plans set for the girls.
“We are going to Cedar Point, we are going white water rafting,” Langsdon said, noting a new aspect of the group’s visit. “The last few years, there has been in interest in American Indians. We’re going to go try Toledo’s Fort Meigs — they have reenactments and things you can see — so we’re going to try Fort Meigs.”
Lutterbeck, who is from Lengerich, Germany, noted one of the trips she is excited for.
“Cedar Point,” the 16-year-old said.
Holtmann, 16, who is also from Lengerich, said she is looking forward to the girls’ makeover session in Lima, where they will get manicures, pedicures and their hair down at the Ohio State Beauty Academy.
“White water rafting,” Vogt said of what she is looking forward to doing while in Ohio.
Freewalt wished the group luck and said he hoped they enjoy their visit to St. Marys.
“I hope you have a wonderful time here,” he said. “I hope you get to see some of the culture.”
For her first visit to St. Marys, Richter noted she has been welcomed.
“The people are nice,” the 15-year-old from Lienen said.
“The people are all so open,” the 16-year-old from Lengerich said. “They’ve all been welcoming.”