For Saanich Peninsula community leaders, the return of the spring ferry service between Sidney and Anacortes, Washington State is a harbinger of the season.
For Elaine Oliphant, who made the season’s maiden voyage from Anacortes to a special celebration Sunday in Sidney, it’s about the spirit of friendship.
“We just love it here,” said Oliphant, president of the Sister Cities of Anacortes association.
She joined Sidney Sister Cities Association president Leslie Nichols at the ceremony and both had high praise for the relationship between the two communities.
“This service helps keep people together,” said Oliphant. “It shows that we are all the same.”
She added she comes to Sidney often in her role with Sister Cities — taking part in Sidney Days and the Sidney Sparkles parade. Oliphant said she would love to see more Sidney residents visit her community as well.
Anacortes has four sister cities of its own — including Sidney — from around the world. Sidney has three: Anacortes, Niimi, Japan and Cairns, Australia.
On Sunday, the ferry’s first sailing of the spring was greeted at the Sidney International Ferry Terminal by a crowd of people waving U.S. and Canadian flags. Piper Nathan Roberts welcomed travelers as they walked and drove off of the ferry and people at the fence traded flags with folks from across the water.
“[The ferry run] represents a connection that brings us together, socially, politically, culturally and economically,” said Sidney Mayor Larry Cross. “It’s a symbiotic relationship, especially from the communities’ sister city organizations.”
Cross noted that he’d like to see the Anacortes Ferry service run throughout the year and said he has spoken with that community’s mayor, Laurie Gere, about working closely to ensure the service continues into the future.
Gere, who is the new mayor of Anacortes, noted that the ferry run has been ranked fifth in the world.
“It’s value is more than fiscal,” Gere said. “It is a unique experience for those who ride it.”
Gere added she is thankful to legislators in her state for keeping the ferry in their budget. Washington State Ferries operates the service and its continued presence is top of mind between the mayors of both communities.
“I look forward to a long and fruitful relationship [with] Mayor Cross and your community,” Gere said.
During the welcome ceremony, Sidney town councillor and Town Crier Kenny Podmore announced a donation of $1,327.05 — collected in a single day — to a representative of the Red Cross of America for the victims of the mudslide in Oso, Washington State.