New sign touts Riverbank’s ‘sister cities.’ Here’s the story behind it

Those going in and out of Riverbank may have noticed a new sign over the last few weeks. “Welcome to Riverbank” reads the sign welcoming drivers into city limits. Just below that, a new sign reads SISTER CITIES: Tamazula, Jalisco, Mexico and Fuyang, China.

It is this sign that has some residents wondering what it means.

Since 1959, the non profit Sister Cities International has helped cities across the country to connect with cities around the world. According to the website, the goal is to create and strengthen partnerships between communities in other countries.

Riverbank City Council Member Luis Uribe explains: “Sister City is an agreement with Tamazula De Gordiano, Mexico, and Fuyang, China. The goal is to learn each other’s history, culture, and art. This benefits all three cities as we learn what the needs are in each city the committee has worked on helping meet those needs.”

Largely inactive for the last few years, the program was reactivated in 2023 with an event to raise funds for new fire equipment for the fire department in Tamazula.

“Last year we were able to acquire gently used firefighter equipment, boots, and helmets donated by the Consolidated Fire Department. I drove the equipment to Long Beach and delivered it to the Mayor of Tamazula, Lalo Guiterrez,” says Uribe.

That was the first of planned projects by the sister cities committee and residents will get the chance to participate in another fundraiser during Founders Day Carnival on Saturday, April 27 at the Community Center Park. City Council members and the mayor have all volunteered to participate in a dunk tank in an effort to sponsor a Riverbank student and their parent on a goodwill visit to Tamazula.

A recent post on Nextdoor had residents concerned about taxpayer funds being used for international efforts and signage, but Uribe explains the program is all volunteer based and funded with donations.

Sister cities efforts are not new in this area. Modesto has maintained an active sister cities program and recently had a delegation from Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine visit Modesto. Modesto also lists Vernon, Canada; Laval, France; Kurume, Japan; and Aguascalientes, Mexico as sister cities.

The signs touting the Sister Cities were revealed on February 9 and there is a plan to add more at various points around town. Residents interested in joining the program can contact council member Luis Uribe at The next meeting will be on March 22 at 6:00 pm. at Perko’s Cafe in Riverbank.