An official nine-person delegation from Guanajuato, Mexico, arrived Wednesday to participate in Ashland’s Fourth of July celebrations, continuing a tradition that began 46 years ago with the establishment of Sister City relations.

Ashland envoys, including Ashland high school “princesses” Mikaela Louise Perry and Angelique Ostmo, went to Guanajuato last month to celebrate Guanajuato’s annual June festival known as the Fiesta de San Juan y Presa de la Olla.

The Guanajuato group included six city councilors, a city attorney and Festival Queen Wendy Rodríguez and her father Ruben Rodríguez.

Ashland Mayor John Stromberg and other city officials warmly welcomed the Mexicans at breakfast Thursday morning. They presented a formal request that Ashland help design a training program for the Guanajuato police department. Stromberg and Police Chief Tighe O’Meara said they would begin work on the project as soon as possible.

Guanajuato Councilor Clarissa Arrache de Abascal, speaking on behalf of Mayor Luis Fernando Gutiérrez Marquez, said that “thanks to the people of Guanajuato and Ashland, we have grown together over the last 46 years and have seen the beneficial fruits of our friendship.” She expressed gratitude for the recent donation of an Ashland fire truck to the Guanajuato fire department.

“We’re certain this visit will be fruitful and our priority is to breathe new life into the Amistad student exchange program between SOU and the University of Guanajuato,” Arrache said.

Stromberg was accompanied at the breakfast by City Manager Dave Kanner, City Council members, fire and police department executives and other city staff, as well as the two high school princesses and members of the Amigo Club of Ashland.

The Guanajuato delegation then had lunch Thursday with Southern Oregon University President Roy Saigo and other SOU officials. Saturday morning the guests were honored as they rode in the Fourth of July parade. The delegation departed Sunday.