On a rainy Friday afternoon, Anacortes checked an honor off the list: A visit from Croatia’s ambassador to the United States.

Pjer Simunovic spent the afternoon learning about and the history of the Croatian community here.

At the Anacortes Sister Cities park, a pull-off on westbound Highway 20, Simunovic was greeted by members of the Croatian community and Anacortes Mayor Laurie Gere, who had recently returned from a trip to Croatia.

“Although we are surrounded by different cultures, when we come together and share our different cultures and experiences, we become richer as a community,” she said. “This connection is a vibrant and joyous part of Anacortes.”

Next, Simunovic was shown the monument to lost sailors and the Lady of the Sea statue at Seafarer’s Memorial Park before learning about the role Croatian Americans have played in the maritime industry in Anacortes at the Maritime Heritage Center.

His visit to Anacortes preceded the Seattle Croatian Festival where he presented an award on Sunday afternoon. Simunovic has had Anacortes on his radar for some time, though. The wife of a former U.S. ambassador to Croatia was from Anacortes and had encouraged him to visit, Simunovic said. So, he did.

“Beautiful place, beautiful place to live,” Simunovic said. He added that there are geographical similarities between Croatia and Anacortes, namely islands. Though, at over 1,000 islands, islets and crags, Croatia has the San Juans outnumbered.

At the Croatian Club, the last stop on the ambassador’s Anacortes itinerary, food and wine were shared among Croatian community members. John Lovric, president of the Sister Cities in Anacortes, had also recently returned from a trip to Croatia and said it was an honor to have the ambassador visit.

“I think it’s special that we have this opportunity to show our community to him,” Lovric said.

In the Croatian Club, with shared stories and drink, the pace of conversation was quick, the laughs loud and smiles wide.

“Part of the business of being the ambassador is to keep these links alive, to visit the community, to visit the Croatian community,” Simunovic said. “We are very proud of our people who have come here to contribute to the greatness of America and the prosperity of this part of the states.”

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