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E-mail pitch makes Utica contender for ‘sister city’

July 15, 2001 

It’s not as easy to find a suitable sister city as I thought. I’ve let you all down, and I’m sorry.

Here I was thinking this sister city business would be a snap –– form a fact-finding committee, travel to some sunny beach, spend a bunch of money and spread goodwill along the way.

Remember how easy it seemed?

Palm Desert’s mayor, the city manager, the city manager’s wife and another member of the city’s Sister Cities Committee took a trip to Mexico to check out the sandy shores of Ixtapa and spent more than $4,500 in taxpayer money before expenses doing it.

Hey, I could do that, I thought. Convince the publisher to kick down some cash, put together my crack team of experts, book the next flight to Rio and hello, sister city. Not so fast.

The phone was quiet. Prospects dried up. Monied benefactors suddenly were hard to find. My globetrotting dreams were dashed.

Then, out of the blue, an e-mail message from a friend of one of our editors:

“Hey, Utica could use a sister city.”

Utica? As in New York? As in the Rust Belt?


But our man at the Utica Observer-Dispatch made his case.

“The parallels are stunning,” he said. “You drink beer. We make beer.”

This was beginning to make sense. Go on.

“It snows a lot here. It never snows there. Our average temperature is almost identical, if we do one in degrees of Fahrenheit and the other in Celsius,” he said. “You have a lot of sand, we have the Rome Sand Dunes.”

Sand dunes in New York? Who knew?

I explored further. Utica’s got a baseball team –– the Blue Sox of the New York-Penn League. And it’s just miles away from the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Not bad. And it’s in the heart of the Mohawk Valley (“The Heart and Hub of New York State”), at the foot of the beautiful Adirondack Mountains.

All right, it wasn’t Ixtapa. Heck, it was barely Raging Waters, but by then, I couldn’t be too choosy.

Besides, where there’s a brewery, there’s hope.

Utica has one –– the Matt Brewery, home of the famous talking steins, Schultz and Dooley. You think there are talking steins in Ixtapa? Think again.

On second thought, I just may save the publisher the bus fare and try my next choice. I’ve always heard there’s nothing like a summer in Perris.

Darrell Smith's column appears Sundays. Reach him at (760) 778-4669 or by e-mail at

By Darrell Smith, Copyright © 2001 The Desert Sun.

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