jUNe Day: When Westport Welcomes The World

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

For more than half a century in early summer, our town has welcomed guests from the United Nations. It’s called jUNe Day — clever, no? — and the 2017 version takes place this coming Saturday (June 24).

Over 300 folks — ambassador types, embassy and headquarters workers, and their families — arrive at the train station. (Whether they come from a 1st or 3rd world nation, they’ve probably never seen anything quite like Metro-North.)

On jUNe Day, the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge brims with flags from around the world. Cohen originated jUNe Day in 1965. (Photo/Jeff Simon)

Having overcome that initial hurdle, they’re shuttled to Saugatuck Elementary School for a 10:30 a.m. welcome.

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. “Tour guides” on buses are also needed. 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.

5 responses to “jUNe Day: When Westport Welcomes The World

  1. Such a great event. The flags look spectacular.

  2. Another important component of the days activities is a walking tour of downtown conducted by members of the Westport Historical Society’s Board of Directors from its headquarters to the Westport Arts Center for UN staff. Highlights include the long covered Edmund Ashe Jr mural in the Banana Republic aka Kleins , Miggs Burroughs hands lenticulars in the passageway from Main Street to Parker -Harding and most importantly the opportunity to be photographed under their flag on the Steinkraus Bridge . One year, I had a mini international incident when my three Vietnamese visitors could not find their flag . Sadly there are now too many countries for all of their flags to be displayed at once ! The following year the Vietnamese flag was on display. Having lived in an international city -Washington D.C. -for most of my life jUNeday truely reminds me of home .

    • Arline Gertzoff

      Thanks Dan for a great article ,the volunteers ,the grocery stores and eateries who donate and the town of Westport, for providing all the great venues.We celebrate the legacy of Ruth -Steinkraus -Cohen, and the importance of international understanding in our complex world.

  3. Michaela MacColl

    I’ve had the honor to chair this event for over 10 years. I talk with most of our guests and they are so grateful to Westport’s hospitality. Their impressions of our town are always admiring — and at the end of the day I have a new appreciation for how beautiful Westport is!

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