In the welcoming spirit of the sister-city program, Littleton City Council will vote July 16 on whether to change the name of the street that runs past Bega Park to Bega Street in time to greet visitors from that Australian city during Western Welcome Week.
Under the plan, the block of Rio Grande Street that connects Main Street and Alamo Avenue would be renamed.
Littleton has enjoyed a 52-year alliance with Bega, established by former Littleton Independent publisher Houstoun Waring and Curly Annabel, the editor of a newspaper in Bega.
According to the program’s website at begalittleton.org, the U.S. State Department and U.S. Information Agency in 1951 made “Small Town Editor,” a film they showed in foreign countries to encourage an independent press to compete with government-controlled news. It was filmed in Littleton and featured Waring, who had achieved national recognition for his editorials on foreign affairs.
Annabel saw the film and was entranced by the similarities between the towns and their newspapers. He reached out, and a friendship was born that became formalized in 1961 with the establishment of a federal sister-city program. Residents have taken turns visiting each other ever since — Littleton sends a delegation to Bega in the first and sixth years of the decade, and Bega citizens visit Littleton in the third and eighth years.
This year, the 11th Bega contingent will be officially welcomed to town at 10 a.m. on Aug. 15 at the park, with a reception complete with an 18-piece band and refreshments.
“The public is encouraged to join in the fun on Main Street and help show our sister-city guests the true Littleton hospitality,” said Kelli Narde, the city’s director of communications.
Led by Barbara Westmacott and her husband, Bob, the 25 Australians will stay for 10 days with their Littleton host families. There are lots of fun things planned for them, including riding in the 85th Western Welcome Week parade on Aug. 17, a dinner at Mount Vernon Country Club, a bus tour of Colorado Springs and a Barn Dance & BBQ grand finale.
“The Littleton/Bega Sister City Committee is very proud of the relationship that has developed between the communities,” writes Charlie Blosten, the city’s director of public services, in his council communication. “Bega Park is a focal point for downtown Littleton, with commemorative plaques and flags representing the sister-city exchange.”
The vote to change the street name was six to one on first reading, with Councilor Peggy Cole dissenting.
“I think it is confusing for people not familiar with Littleton to have a different name on that very short block, particularly if they are in the left lane of Main Street in congested traffic and are looking for Rio Grande,” she said.
Blosten noted the park’s address is actually 2250 W. Main Street, as listed by South Suburban Parks and Recreation.