Wavin’ Flags

It’s one of the longest-running, most enjoyable, most visible — and yet least remarked upon and little noticed — events in Westport.

For nearly half a century in early summer, our town has welcomed guests from the United Nations. It’s called jUNe Day — clever, no? — and the 2014 version takes place this coming Saturday (June 28).

Over 300 folks — ambassador types, embassy and headquarters workers, and their families — arrive at the train station. (Whether they come from a first or third world nation, they’ve probably never seen anything quite like Metro-North.)

Having overcome that initial hurdle, they’re shuttled to Saugatuck Elementary School for a 10 a.m. welcome.

Every jUNe Day, lags of many of the United Nations' 193 members fly on the  Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Post Road bridge. Cohen established the annual event in 1965.

Every jUNe Day, flags of many of the United Nations’ 193 members fly on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Post Road bridge. Cohen established the event in 1965.

The UN is known for speechifying, but these are short. Then comes the real fun: a tennis tournament and golf at Longshore, tours of Earthplace, a visit to Wakeman Town Farm — you get the idea.

There’s a soccer match between a UN team and the Westport Knights men’s side. It’s not the World Cup, but some years tensions are nearly as high.

Many guests head straight to Compo, or the Longshore pool. They shop. They enjoy Westport.

Sometimes we forget what a day in “the country” can do. Many UN folks and their families don’t get many chances to leave New York.  jUNe Day is an opportunity for them to do just that — and for us to show off our town.

We may not be a “typical” American town. But this is our chance to offer typical American hospitality.

Volunteers are needed to serve breakfast and lunch, help out at Longshore, and clean up. If interested, call 203-526-3275, or email andreasusa@yahoo.com.

Or just give a big hello on Saturday to anyone wearing jUNe Day hats, and an orange bracelet.

UN logo


5 responses to “Wavin’ Flags

  1. Thanks Dan. This is our 49th year of having this event and so many people in town don’t know what it’s about. I’ve been running the event for 12 years and I do it because I love seeing so many interesting people from all over the world enjoying our town.

    And the flags are beautiful — it’s so much fun seeing our guests seek out their flag on the bridge. Many people don’t know that it was our committee and friends of Ruth Steinkraus Cohen who donated the flags. We keep them updated (a little difficult in world cup years — they tend to disappear). The flags fly three times a year — June Day, United Nations Day in October and for First Night. Enjoy!

  2. Mary Ann West

    If you get a chance, I highly recommend a unique “Westport” opportunity for you and your family to get to know international guests on a casual basis by volunteering on jUNe Day. It might change your life story.

    Years past we hosted a diplomat’s family from Bangladesh for Thanksgiving that had a profound impact on my then Staples HS freshman daughter. She used that experience, the exchange of cultural differences and continued conversations with an enlarged world view to develop her college essay, focused on one comment Masud said; “The world needs all kinds of people”.

    Amelia has since followed her political science heart to Washington DC while Masud and family moved on to become the Bangladesh Ambassador in Beijing, China. There is no way to know how big an impact meeting new people will bring to you.

  3. Susan Cameron

    We hosted UN visitors in our time there. I do not believe enough mention was made of Ruth Steinkraus Cohens contribution to this event other than the bridge bearing her name.

  4. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    “Good things happen when you meet strangers.” – Yo-Yo Ma