Quite by accident, the Ambassador of Croatia, Josko Paro, discovered Gig Harbor during his trip to America with his wife. Tourism information about Gig Harbor, it’s beauty, and more importantly, the lingering influences of Croatian settlers caught their attention and drew them to visit.
It is the reason that when Zoran Milanovic, the Prime Minister of Croatia, was scheduled to visit the five big US information technology companies (including Microsoft in Seattle), they made a special trip to Gig Harbor.
With just five days to plan in late September of 2014, the City managed to organize a successful welcome at Skansie Brothers Park. The pavilion was draped in flags and a colorful welcome banner when the 12-member delegation arrived. Tim Jovanovich and members of the Tamburitza Orchestra danced and played the Croatian anthem amidst an energetic crowd of Croatian flag-waving enthusiasts that witnessed the historic visit.
In honor of her late father, 93 year-old Don Gilich, Sharon Gilich-Eckman hosted a luncheon at the Emmett Ross (Whittier) Netshed. US Congressman Derek Kilmer, the Mayor, City Council, and over 50 members of local Croatian families were in attendance. Devoted Kiss served traditional NW grilled salmon garbed in “Dobrodosli” (welcome in Croatian) aprons.
A tour of the historic Skansie Brothers home (now headquarters to environmental non-profit Harbor WildWatch) houses a permanent display recognizing the contributions of the Skansie family and early Croatian settlers that brought boat-building and commercial fishing to Gig Harbor. Clocks on display in the house are set to Gig Harbor | New York | and Croatia times -- tracing the travel route from the islands off Croatia. All in all, the day was a great success and will forever remind us of the town's humble Croatian beginnings. Learn more and view the Gateway Newspaper of the event on the From Croatia With Love page.