Stratfords of the World Unite In Connecticut This Summer
People from the six places called Stratford are coming to Connecticut this summer.
It's not uncommon for cities to find sister cities, and there's even a nonprofit group to help cities find a match, like an online dating service. But these particular sister cities even share a name.
The world has six Stratfords: Stratford, England where Shakespeare was born, two in Canada, one in Australia, one in New Zealand and of course one in Connecticut. Every two years, they get together for the Stratfords of the World Reunion.
The one this year is in Connecticut, and around a hundred people are coming from the other Stratfords.
This all started more than 20 years ago between Stratford, Connecticut and Stratford, Ontario in Canada, because they both had Shakespeare theaters at the time.
Rosemary Martin Hayduk, one of the organizers of this year's reunion, said that yes, they do bond over the name. "It's kind of a kick to be in another hemisphere and pass the Stratford Bay," she said, "and go to Stratford High School, or the Stratford Pub, and realize, oh my gosh, I'm in Australia, or I'm in New Zealand, and look, they've got a Stratford Bar and Grill here too. It's just a unique and fun club."
Host families will volunteer to let the visitors stay for free in whichever Stratford they go to, and they need more volunteers. They'll go to local museums, watch concerts and, of course, watch performances of Shakespeare plays.
Hayduk also said the reunions are now about more than just Shakespeare and the name Stratford.
"The end result, as you can imagine is lasting friendships," Hayduk said. "I have been a member of this group for 20 years and I can honestly say that this organization has changed my life, the friendships that i made dating all the way back to 1993 was with me the entire 20 years."
They keep each other informed of major events like wedding announcements, and when one of the first organizers of the Stratford reunions passed away in Connecticut, some residents of the other Stratfords flew in to pay their respects. People in Stratford, Connecticut even formed the Stratford Sister Cities Chorus back when the reunions started, to serve as 'vocal ambassadors' for the alliance.
The next reunion will be in Stratford, England in 2016 to recognize the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.