Sculpture Unveiling Celebrates 13 Years of Sister City Partnership

Todd Bye, La Crosse-Friedberg Sister City Committee

The city of La Crosse, Wisconsin has a total of seven sister city relationships throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia. In late August 2015, a delegation of 14 people led by Friedberg, Germany Mayor “Burgermeister” Roland Eichman arrived in La Crosse. What marked this occasion as being so special was the presentation of a gift of a sculpture from the city of Friedberg which represented a lasting memorial to the friendships that have been built over the years.

The sculpture was designed and constructed in Friedberg by Friedberg artist and sister city committee member, Wolfgang Auer, who was present for its installation and dedication. Wolfgang worked closely for over a year with local park management as well as some master gardeners in order to carefully craft its design, construction, and shipment to ensure proper placement and fit.

After much consultation, the artist and the Friedberg committee members decided that this symbol of friendship should reflect the history of Friedberg and commemorate the time spent working together in the past as well as looking towards the future of their partnership. The city of Friedberg has a rich watchmaking history, so it was deemed appropriate that a pocket watch design be chosen. The pocket watch is covered in gold and silver leaf and stands over six feet high. Its dial is inscribed with the phrase “Connecting cultures and people.” The hands on the dial point to 7:00 to indicate the seven hour time difference between the two cities. The upper cover is embossed with a relief of the cityscape of Friedberg with its still-standing medieval wall, City Hall, and St. Jakob church. Also featured are the Wittlesbacher Castle and the old water tower. The back side of the cover features a world map linking La Crosse and Friedberg.

The public unveiling and dedication took place in the German Garden area of the La Crosse Riverside International Friendship Gardens located at Riverside Park in La Crosse. Local dignitaries in attendance at the dedication included La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat and long-time friend and International Garden President Chuck Hansen. With them, Friedberg Mayor Roland Eichman, Friedberg Sister City committee co-Presidents Renate Mayer and Barbara Sevenich all spoke of the meaning and importance of continued relationship building between all sister cities. A full video and photos of the presentation can be seen here.