Järvenpää (the Finnish ä is pronounced like the a in cat), an urban community 23 miles (37 km) north of Helsinki, Finland’s capital, became Pasadena’s third sister city in May 1983. Järvenpää, which means “The Head of the Lake,” derives its name from its location at the northern end of Lake Tuusuljärvi. Although Järvenpää is a smaller, newer community than Pasadena, it is a city rich in history and culture. Sibelius, the famous Finnish composer, made his home there. The symbol of Järvenpää is the harp.
The story behind the Pasadena/Järvenpää sister-city relationship is an important part of Pasadena history. Former Finnish Consul, the late Y. A. Paloheimo (who married Leonora, the granddaughter of celebrated California artist and early Pasadena settler, Eva Scott Fenyes) was instrumental in getting his hometown of Järvenpää adopted as a sister city of Pasadena. The Paloheimo family, which lived in Pasadena for years, donated the Fenyes mansion to the City of Pasadena in 1970. This property is now the home of the Pasadena Historical Museum of History. Y. A. Paloheimo also founded the Finlandia Foundation in 1953, a national Finnish cultural and educational organization. In May 2004 the Finlandia Foundation moved its national office to the museum, and the Foundation continues to maintain a Finnish folk art museum, the Tupa, on the Museum grounds.
In August 1999, on the sixteenth anniversary, Pasadena and Järvenpää reaffirmed their Sister City relationship in a gala ceremony on the grounds of the Pasadena Historical Museum. Following a California-wine & Finnish-hors-d’oeuvres reception, Pasadena’s Mayor Bill Bogaard and Järvenpää’s Mayor Erkki Kukkonen signed a reaffirmation document in a formal ceremony. The event was co-sponsored by the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee, the Pasadena Historical Museum, the Finlandia Foundation, and the Finnish Consulate. Ariberg, President of the Järvenpää City Council, commented, “We’re like a couple who have been engaged for 21 years and finally got married!” Visits, both official and unofficial, as well as summer student exchanges between the two cities have been ongoing for the past 16 years. Leaders and citizens from both Pasadena and Järvenpää are currently at work to enhance and enlarge the cultural exchanges between the two cities.