A delegation of visitors from Chile is spending the day touring sights in Elgin, part of a schedule packed with activities the next four days.
The delegation from Cauquenes, Elgin's sister city, includes the city manager, a city councilman who will be the future mayor, and the regional superintendent of firefighters, said Elgin Fire Lt. Bob Bedard, who spearheaded the visit. A journalist and an emergency disaster specialist came from nearby Santiago, Bedard said.
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The delegation arrived Tuesday and will stay through Monday.
Local politicians and Latino leaders were among those who attended a welcome dinner Tuesday night at the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, Bedard said.
The Chileans Wednesday were scheduled to tour Elgin's public works facility and water department, Advocate Sherman Hospital, and The Centre of Elgin, Bedard said.
On Thursday, they will attend the Fourth of July parade in Elgin and the Northwest Fourth-Fest fireworks show at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, where the Elgin Symphony Orchestra will be playing.
On Friday, the group will tour the Elgin History Museum, Advocate Sherman West Court, and possibly the Community Crisis Center and the Elgin Police Department, Bedard said.
On Saturday, they will participate in the downtown Elgin National Motorcycle Show; on Sunday, they will spend the day sightseeing in Chicago, where they will sample deep dish pizza, Bedard said.
The city will be paying for the cost of the Chileans' lodging -- a hot topic of debate at last week's city council meeting. Councilmen John Prigge and Terry Gavin tried to block the city from spending any money on the Chileans' visit, but the rest of the city council disagreed with them.
The expense will be no more than $3,800, and likely much less, Bedard said. The city secured discounted rates at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites in Elgin. The nonprofit Sister Cities Elgin & Cauquenes, along with partners like the casino and local businesses, are contributing to food expenses, Bedard said.
A major goal for the visit is to establish avenues for business partnerships between Elgin and Cauquenes, city officials said.
"The economic opportunities are starting to come to us and looking really good. That's the fruit at the end of the day," Bedard said.