Bloomington Normal Sister Cities

The Sister Cities program was originally conceived as part of President Eisenhower’s People to People program.

The affiliation between Bloomington and Asahikawa, Japan came about through the personal efforts of Alvin Keller.

In 1960 as Director of Finance for the city of Bloomington, he sent copies of a brochure (“Bloomington Progress Report 1960”) to cities around the world, and in an accompanying letter requested similar materials in return.

A letter received in December 1960 by Mayor Robert McGraw from Mayor Yosokici Maeno of Asahikawa said, in part, “It is our honor to have received a letter and brochure which introduces your city and its municipal operation.

We have also been looking forward to learn various status of cities. . .in foreign countries. We have even more studies to select a suitable city in the United States who wishes to become a sister city with us.”

That letter resulted in regular communication between leaders of the two cities, and on March 26, 1962, the Sister Cities affiliation between Bloomington and Asahikawa was formally proclaimed by Mayor McGraw and the city council.

Mayor Maeno and the Asahikawa council did the same on October 11, 1962. In March 1964, Bloomington resident Ned Cicciu was appointed chairperson and five other citizens, including Alvin Keller were asked to serve on the newly-created Sister Cities Committee.

On April 7, 1980, the Normal Town Council accepted an invitation to officially join Bloomington as a sister city to Asahikawa, formalizing a relationship that had, in fact, existed for years. The people of Asahikawa had already come to know Bloomington-Normal as one community.