OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Welcomed with open arms.
"The trip is awesome. The Italians, the Carlentini people, the Carlentini Mayor, they rolled out the red carpet for everybody from Omaha," said Mike DiGiacomo, Santa Lucia Festival.
It is more than just a trip to Italy. It's a trip that connects Omaha families back to their relatives in Carlentini. The first time for many.
"Many people on the trip, they are making connections with relatives that they never knew existed," DiGiacomo said.
As the friendship cities continue to pursue a sister city agreement, this trip was marked with ceremonies, traditions and celebrations.
Including a park dedicated to the City of Omaha, now known as Omaha Park.
"A really moving tribute and a true testament to the partnership and, you know, hopefully, long-term relationship that Omaha has with Carlentini. It's just been amazing" DiGiacomo said.
They even joined in on the Husker fun, after Mike hung up the Husker flag.
"The people of Carlentini were laughing and smiling, and cheering for Nebraska. It was pretty cool," DiGiacomo said.
And the big part of the trip was the Santa Lucia Festival. Although Omaha has its own, celebrated in July, visitors to Carlentini are getting a taste of where all the festivities began.
But Mike said it looks a little different.
"This here in Carlentini is really, you know what the origins of the festival. Which is you know a religious and faith-based festival," DiGiacomo said. "The one in Omaha is as well, but we have more of a focus on food and entertainment."
Mike is hopeful that after this trip, the sister city relationship will happen relatively soon.
"It's such a natural sister city partnership, it makes sense," DiGiacomo said.
Monday night was the final night of the festival and Mayor Jean Stothert will return to the U.S. on September 10.