Mayor Steven Ponto was on a morning stroll during a recent trip to Brookfield's sister city, Seligenstadt, Germany, when a passerby recognized him.
"He followed the sister city relationship so close that he recognized me from local media coverage," Ponto said.
Brookfield's mayor was looking for a post office, and the man walked with him to ensure he found it.
"One of the things that really impressed me is how receptive they are to the United States - and the importance they place on the sister city relationship," he said.
Ponto visited Seligenstadt from Oct. 9 to 17 with his wife, Mary, Sister City Committee Chairman Harry Farchmin, and about 10 others.
Ponto adamantly notes that each member of the delegation paid for their own trip - no city funds were used.
Comparing the cities
Brookfield and Seligenstadt are similar in size, and both cities neighbor a major metropolitan area. (Seligenstadt neighbors Frankfurt.)
But there's at least one glaring difference.
Seligenstadt was established in the 800s.
The city of Brookfield dates back to the 1950s.
Farchmin said preservation of Seligenstadt's historic downtown demonstrates how proud its people are of their heritage.
"The downtown area is almost a storybook land you would expect in Disney World. There are all these old buildings with exposed support timbers," Ponto said.
The sister city relationship began when the Elmbrook School District established a student exchange program with schools in Offenbach County, home to Seligenstadt.
The city partnership made sense, Ponto said, because of the strong German roots in the Milwaukee area.
The next step could be a business venture.
Ponto said the makers of Glaabsbrau beer in Seligenstadt have considered establishing a brewery in the Milwaukee area - possibly even Brookfield.
"This would certainly be appropriate. The Milwaukee area is well known for its breweries," Ponto told hundreds who gathered at Seligenstadt City Hall for a champagne reception.
Those talks, however, are in preliminary stages, Ponto said.
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