Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate

Hundreds of community members, local officials and city and county employees lined the entry room of the Crescent City Cultural Center Thursday to welcome more than 20 delegates from Sister City Rikuzentakata, Japan with warm greetings and applause.

Once inside, they found many displays, large photos and a giant banner of Japanese calligraphy.

Crescent City Mayor Blake Inscore explained how the banner was created by a team of female students in front of the Crescent City delegation while visiting Takata High School in June. Arrangements were immediately made to have the huge banner shipped to Crescent City.

Inscore told visitors staff wanted them to experience aspects of Crescent City “that may not have been obvious before.”

“I think there’s always an opportunity for all of us, not just our guests, but all of us, as a community for us to be able to appreciate the shared culture that we have,” Inscore said, later introducing the Hmong Community Dancers.

Inscore then introduced Yurok Tribal members Willard Carlson and son Will, along with Mary Almansa, noting that tribes were in the area long before others settled here. Playing a drum made of seal hide and deer sinew, Will played a traditional gambling song as Almansa, dressed in small bells, swung in rhythm.

“Sometimes we just sing them for luck, so we’ll sing you a couple songs,” he said.

Willard welcomed the delegates, noting how a tiny boat crossed the Pacific to eventually bring the two cities of Rikuzentakata and Crescent City together.

“It’s a kind of strange coincidence but somehow the creator has connected us all,” he said. He noted that the 2011 tsunami that destroyed Rikuzentakata also took the life of a Yurok tribal member after it traveled across the ocean.

“We overcome,” he said. “We pull together when great tragedies happen.”

In closing, Inscore recalled Rikuzentakata Mayor Futoshi Toba saying in April the Sister City relationship has given many in his city hope to continue the process of rebuilding their city.

“Now, all of you all are a part of that story,” Inscore said.

The group of mostly teachers has been traveling around the county to various locations, focused largely on schools and educational programs. Student delegates arrived Tuesday and departed Friday. Adults will visit local attractions and landmarks Saturday before heading to Sacramento to meet with state officials to discuss emergency issues.