WORTHINGTON -- Continuing the long-standing relationship between Crailsheim, Germany and Worthington, a delegation will visit the area for five days beginning Sunday.
"We made an invite because we knew there was some people from Crailsheim who wanted to come here while the school year was still going on and check out our school systems," Worthington mayor Alan Oberloh said. "Generally, when they've come it was in the summer months, and there's nothing going on at school.
"Because of those foul weather days we had related to this last ice event, school will be extended two days, so they will actually be in session on Monday, May 20," he continued.
The Germans will fly into the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport Saturday and arrive in Worthington late that night.
"They will fly into Minneapolis/St. Paul, they will be chartered bus down and get into Worthington about 2 in the morning," Oberloh said. "It will be after the Event Center event is over. Then they will be showing up, actually in the same parking lot later that morning."
The group, approximately 47 travelers, will have a full schedule.
"The first thing they will be out in public at is the pancake breakfast at the Elks Lodge on Sunday morning," Oberloh said. "They will be with their host families relaxing that day, because they will have traveled all day on Saturday. It's a pretty extensive plane ride."
The rest of Sunday will be spent relaxing and getting acquainted with their host families.
"All, except for four of five of them, will be staying at host families," Oberloh said. "The Burgermeister (mayor) and a couple others will be staying at the Travelodge, based on their own choosing."
Monday, the American experience begins.
"Then on Monday, they are touring all of the schools," Oberloh said. "On Monday, they will be having dinner at the senior high. They don't do school lunch, and they don't do busing in Germany. So they are going to ride school buses between the schools, starting out at 8 a.m. at Prairie Elementary and going to the middle school and the senior high for a tour. They will eat lunch there."
But the day won't end there for the German visitors.
"In the afternoon, they will be going to Pioneer Village and Spomer's (car museum)," Oberloh said.
On Tuesday, the visitors will take a day trip to Pipestone.
"The German people like to see the Western stuff as much as they can," Oberloh said. "Pipestone still has working Indians there making the peace pipes and stuff, so they will be taking a tour there. They will have a buffalo dinner in Luverne at Blue Mound at the interpretative center."
On Wednesday, they will be back in Worthington.
"Wednesday they are taking tours of businesses in the community," Oberloh said. "And Friday they leave. It's a short stay in Worthington."
Because of the short nature of the visit, there won't be much fanfare.
"We set this up according to their wishes," Oberloh said. "Because it's not summer where we have the Regatta going on or fall where we have Turkey Day going on or a Fourth of July celebration, there is no time. They are not even going to be here for a full weekend. If they were here for the next weekend, we would probably have a party at Chautauqua Park or someplace and invite everybody to show up."
Oberloh said the city is accommodating the German visitors' wishes.
"We're showing them things they want to see along the way, similar to what they do when we go there. There are certain things that people want to see when we go to Germany, and they try to accommodate your wishes," he said. "We're doing the same thing here. They wanted to see the schools, and they are going to see the business community and they always like to see the early days -- so like Pioneer Village and Pipestone Monument and Blue Mound State Park."
There won't be much for public events for the visitors, but people will have an opportunity to greet the delegation Sunday morning.
"I would tell people in the community, if you want to visit with the German delegation that's here, your very first opportunity to do that would be after the 10 o'clock hour at the pancake breakfast at the Elks," Oberloh said. "That's where we'll be doing a welcome to them all as a group. After that, the only times they will be assembled as a group is when they are on their tours through different places."
After leaving Worthington, the delegation will make a trip south to New Mexico.
"Then they are going to Albuquerque and Santa Fe," Oberloh said. "In Santa Fe, they will meet up with Marnie McCarthy who was the person who got the exchange going 65-plus years ago now. They are going to spend a couple days with Bill and Marnie."
After, they will be going west.
"They are going to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas and fly out," Oberloh said. "I don't know if they are making a California visit as well. They are actually going to be in the country for three weeks, but they are going to be here for five days."
Oberloh has been to Germany three times, including twice since he's been mayor.
"I got to go over for the 60th anniversary celebration when the two ladies who started the pen pal relationship met for the first time, 60 years after the thing started. It was great," he said.
When he became mayor, Oberloh said there was some concern the relationship would suffer.
"When I became mayor, several of the Germans were thinking that would be the end of it," he said. "They didn't know me, so they though it would be the end of the relationship because of the new mayor. I made a statement to them, 'This sister city relationship is greater than one person -- it's two communities, and one person is not going to make it go away.'"
After the Germans' visit here, a group of Worthington delegates will likely make a return trip.
"I think the intention is there will be a delegation from the Worthington area that will go over next year for a visit," Oberloh said. "Basically, what it is, it's an invite. We invite them, and they invite us. It's always been that way."
Daily Globe Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.