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Amityville-Le Bourget twinning visit brings French citizens to LI in July

A decades-old tradition of visits between citizens of Amityville and the French village of Le Bourget will continue with the arrival of a French delegation next month.

Fifteen French citizens will arrive July 10 for a 10-day stay with Amityville hosts, with an itinerary that includes fishing at Captree, seeing races at Belmont Park racetrack, church services at the Hollywood Baptist Church and a visit to New York City, said Carolyn Dodd, 67, a retired teacher and president of the Amityville Le Bourget Alliance.

"No matter how different our language, customs and appearances, we are more alike than different," she wrote in an email last week. "We share our love of families, grieve our losses and celebrate our good fortunes."

The visits began in the late 1970s after former Amityville Mayor Lou Howard, an aviation buff, traveled to Le Bourget Airport in Paris, where Charles Lindbergh landed in 1927 after his historic trans-Atlantic flight solo from Long Island.

A small group of French visited Amityville in 1978 and a year later, then-Amityville Mayor Victor Neimi and Le Bourget Mayor Andre Cadot signed a friendship proclamation decreeing the twinning of the Village of Amityville and the Ville du Bourget under the auspices of the United Towns Organization, a group formed to develop relationships between communities.

Each delegation pays its own airfare, but host delegations pay the guests' local expenses. The French last visited in 2010, Dodd said, and Americans, who are due to make their next trip in 2016, last visited in 2012.

"We realized during our last trip that our French friends loved to walk everywhere, eat wonderfully fresh food and don't snack, conserve rainwater in barrels," Dodd wrote. They were especially proud, she wrote, of "architectural wonders" produced by a history of artistic patronage and religious conviction.

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