OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The City of Overland Park is moving forward with plans to bring a little bit of German culture to Johnson County.
“Overland Park has had a sister city relationship with Bietigheim-Bissingen since 1999, and we are very proud of the partnership we have with them,” said Meg Ralph, spokesperson for the Overland Park City Manager’s Office.
The city has plans to build a new park on the corner of 159th and Quivira, named in honor of their sister city, Bietigheim-Bissingen.
“A park that will include some of the amenities that we see in many of our parks like multi-use trails, playgrounds, a gathering area, but it will have some touches on it that really pay respect to our sister city relationship that we have with Bietigheim-Bissingen in Germany,” Ralph explained.
Those touches include German-inspired architecture throughout ‘BB’ Park.
“We have some conceptual site plans that we asked neighbors to take a look at and our sister city delegates to take a look at, so we are finalizing some of those details and hopefully getting started on construction early next year,” Ralph said.
Johnson County’s ties to Germany go back before the city established its formal sister-city relationship as the music department at Shawnee Mission South High School formed a partnership and exchange program with music schools in Bietigheim-Bissingen well before that.
“We’ve been doing this since 1979,” said Shawnee Mission South High School Band Director Steve Adams.
“Every four years, for the most part, they come over here. They stay in our houses, have potluck dinners, conversations around the dinner table, soccer games, and concerts, and tour our community to see everything Overland Park, Kansas, has to offer. Then we go over there and do a very similar type of thing.”
Adams said the exchange program allows students to experience other cultures and has led to lifelong friendships.
“They love the people. We have so much in common. Being a German teenager and an American teenager is pretty much the same thing. But there’s just a little bit of a difference, and that’s what makes the conversation really interesting at the dinner table,” Adams explained.
More information about the City of Overland Park’s Bietigheim-Bissingen Park plans can be found here.