GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The city of Glens Falls has a sister on the other side of the world. This month, the Adirondack community is reconnecting with its bonded sibling of Saga, Japan, for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, April 20, Saga City Mayor Hidetaka Sakai will pay his first-ever visit to Glens Falls, to commemorate the 35th anniversary of a relationship built on a shared enthusiasm for hot air balloons, further cultivated by student exchange programs. After arriving, Sakai will be part of a celebration Thursday night at The Queensbury Hotel to celebrate the continued relationship.

“For the first time since 2019, Saga City will be visiting Glens Falls,” says Mayor Bill Collins. “Our cities have many things in common. Both cities have similar industries, like paper mills, and our economies have experienced growth. Both cities have an appreciation for history as well as education, both cities host high school sports tournaments, and of course, both cities are involved with Balloon Festivals.”

Glens Falls’ relationship with the Kyushu, Japan city began when a Glens Falls-area balloon team visited the Japanese Saga International Balloon Fiesta. Their stories from the event quickly reached the ears of Milly Koh, a Japanese-American immigrant and co-founder of the Sister Cities Committee of Glens Falls & Warren County.

“The team had a fantastic time and were struck by the kindness of those who attended the Fiesta,” said Koh. “And I’ll always be eternally grateful to former Mayor Frank O’Keefe, who agreed to developing the sister city relationship with Saga City.”

Mayor Sakai will spend the weekend in Warren County, getting a tour of Glens Falls and Lake George. In the last 35 years, the two regions have developed a robust student exchange program. Locally, students from Glens Falls, Queensbury, Lake George and Hadley-Luzerne school districts have visited Saga.