For a 45-year tradition, jUNe Day still manages to fly under the radar.
Each year on the last Saturday in jUNe June, up t0 350 United Nations people travel to Westport. Officially, the event promotes “world peace and international understanding…reinforced through friendship, both for the visitors and their hosts.”
In reality it’s a chance for UN staffers, spouses and kids to escape New York City on a (usually sultry) Saturday, and enjoy a few hours of swimming, tennis, golf, soccer, shopping and whatnot.
This Saturday’s date has special significance — it’s the 60th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter — but that’s really immaterial. jUNe Day is not about an institution; it’s about the people who work there, and a beachside town that happens to be on a train line an hour away.
For over 4 decades, a small cadre of volunteers has made jUNe Day an important date on the UN calendar. They make sure flags fly proudly on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Memorial Bridge (the name honors a woman who, for years, spearheaded jUNe Day). They meet guests at the mercifully quick welcoming breakfast; provide hospitality at every venue, and do all the behind-the-scenes chores that make something like this run smoothly.
There are not a lot of them — most Westporters have as much connection with jUNe Day as they do with the UN generally, which is not much — but, quietly and effectively, they have cemented a tie between our town and the global organization that endures.
It’s an honor to welcome UN guests here. Every Westporter should delight in the chance to show visitors from Mexico, Malta, Mali — and every other corner of earth — what life in a typical American small town is like.
What? We’re not really typical?
Sssssshhhhh — they don’t need to know.
(To volunteer on jUNe Day, call Barbara Jay: 203-226-1710. For more information, contact Michaela MacColl at 203-227-9461, or Bill Hass at 203-454-7685.)