Tag Archives: United Nations

Roundup: Patagonia, Police Scam, Heat Pumps …

One of Westport’s most iconic locations will soon have a new tenant.

A “For Lease” sign on Patagonia leads to this listing for 87 Post Road East — the 1909 Westport Bank & Trust building that’s now home to the clothing chain:

Located at the intersection of Westport’s busiest retail corridor of Main St, Post Rd and Church Lane, this landmark building is a standout location visible from all points that vehicle and pedestrian traffic enter the downtown. Located adjacent to Urban Outfitters and across from Anthropologie and Barnes & Noble. Space consists of 6,200 SF on grade on Post Rd, with and additional 1,650 SF of retail on lower level, accessed internally from selling floor. Historic charm abounds with high ceilings, and 10′ Palladian windows!

It’s a 5-year lease. Rental rate and type are negotiable.

(Photo and hat tip/Eric Grossberg)


Several residents got phone calls yesterday from 203-341-6000: the Westport Police Department non-emergency number.

Someone claiming to be from the WPD told whoever answered that they were being called on a recorded line, and had missed a court subpoena.  The citizens recognized the calls as scams, and contacted the department.

The Police say, “We believe the end goal of these calls was to have the recipient send money or gift card information as payment for a fine or to avoid arrest. The Westport Police Department does not accept payment for any services, fees, etc. over the phone.

“Residents should hang up and contact our non-emergency number if they ever have a question regarding the legitimacy of a call from someone identifying themselves as a member of the Westport Police Department.”


Sustainable Westport is launching a 3-part energy learning series. The programs will bring together experts with Westport residents who have upgraded their homes with heat pumps/solar/geothermal.

The sessions (reception at 6:30 p.m.; presentation and Q-and-A, 7 p.m.) include:

  • All About Heat Pumps: October 3 (Click here to register)
  • Everything Solar: November 7
  • Going Geothermal: December 5



A ground-breaking exhibit at United Nations headquarters, featuring Miggs Burroughs’ “Signs of Compassion” — 30 lenticular photos, showing local residents using sign language to recite Emily Dickinson’s poem of the same name, and Yurkiw’s accompanying Braille “prayer wheel” mantra, based on those he saw in Bhutan (including a wheelchair-accessible element) — opens next month.

The 2 works will be displayed on and next to a 102-foot curved wall.

Ever since the United Nations moved into its Manhattan headquarters in 1951, the lobby’s rotating art exhibit has been sponsored by member nations. For what is believed to be the first time, the featured works are offered by individual artists.

This is also the first time that Connecticut artists are featured at the UN.

The exhibit was made possible by individual donors. “06880” helped raise $18,000 fpr producing, printing and mounting the 30 large lenticular images; materials for the “prayer wheel” sculpture, and security for the reception (a UN requirement).

It is open to the public from October 10 to November 20, weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Miggs Burroughs’ lenticular images on the , and Mark Yurkiw’s Braille wheel (right).


The other day, the  Greens Farms Garden Club celebrated their third fruitful Growing for Good Project.

Thirteen harvests from Wakeman Town Farm and Prospect Gardens were delivered to Mercy Learning Center. The first was 17 pounds in June; by this month, the harvest was 75 pounds.

Members fought pests, protected their crops, fertilized vegetables, and plowed through the hot summer to produce the produce.

From left: Greens Farm Garden Club  member Chen Yang, president Maybette Waldron, Prospect Gardens landscape designer Cindy Shumate, 1st Selectwoman Jennifer Growing for Good chair Jacque O’Brien.


This is the 29th year for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Fairfield County.

At least one participant has been involved with every one.

Denise Lucarelli says: “29 years ago, I was assisting at the front desk when the phone rang. The young lady began to explain that she was from the American Cancer Society, and they were sponsoring a new walk in Westport.

“I stopped her and said we would be glad to participate, since we are a radiology practice and early detection does save lives. She was amazed, and thought it would be much harder to convince me.

“We both laughed. Since that cold call, Advanced Radiology’s physicians, staff and family members have attended this vital and awesome walk every year.”

The walk draw approximately 5,000 walkers annually to Sherwood Island State Park in October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month). Participants include healthcare systems, youth organizations, local and national businesses, and community teams (often honoring or memorializing survivors).

This year’s event is on Sunday, October 15 (9 a.m.). Click here to register, and for more information.

The American Cancer Society also sponsors a Men Wear Pink campaign. Participants are asked to raise at least $2,500; wear pink every day in October, and raise awareness through social networks. Click here for more information.


The Smart Walk for Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities is a family event celebrating the strengths of children with learning and attention differences.

This year’s walk — the 4th annual — will include volunteers tossing colored powder as participants stroll by.

It’s set for October 1 (noon to 3 p.m., Sherwood Island State Park).

Children will also enjoy critters from Stamford Museum & Nature Center, bridge building with 3DuxDesign’s Team STEAM, Sasco River Center sensory stations, glitter tattoos, crafts, photo booth, lawn games, refreshments, ice cream and more.

Parents and caregivers will learn about resources, and experience community.

Children’s author Sivan Hong will read from her “Super Fun Day” books. Also planned: a youth chorus performance and youth speaker.

Participants walk the 2-mile route along Long Island Sound at their own pace. Registration fees are $15; $10 for children ages 6 -12; free for 5 and under. Strollers are welcome. For information and registration, click here


Westport Tilt Parenting is a support group for parents of neurodivergent children.

They’ve partnered with the Westport Library to host Debbie Reber. The educator, author and advocate for understanding and embracing neurodivergent youngsters will speak at the Library on November 28 (7 p.m.).

Her topic: “Understanding and Embracing Differently Wired Kids.”

Westport Tilt Parenting says that at least 1 in 5 youths are in some way neurodivergent (ADHD, learning disabilities, autism spectrum, gifted, sensory issues, anxiety and more).

However, they are often misunderstood. Current support strategies may be misguided; their strengths and gifts can be overlooked.

All parents of neurodiverse and neurotypical children are invited, as are teachers, administrators and interested others. Click here for more information. To learn more about Westport Tilt Parenting, email  alexandre.acupuncture@gmail.com.


Comic art, deconstructed case-bound book boards, and visual mixed media all grace the walls of The Westport Library gallery spaces this fall. Local featured artists include Marc Zaref, Niki Ketchman, Rowan MacColl and Connor McCann.

Coinciding with the Neil Gaiman StoryFest keynote conversation (Friday, October 20) is the visual companion in the Sheffer Gallery, “Panels & Gutters: The Comic Art of Rowan MacColl and Connor McCann.”

The exhibition celebrates the form storytelling in comic art featuring MacColl’s and McCann’s illustrations with added panels demonstrating their conceptual and technical process. The graduates of Staples High School and Rhode Island School of Design are navigating the art scene with great success.

The opening reception and artist talk (Thursday, October 19; reception 6 p.m.; artist talk, 7 p.m.) will reunite MacColl and McCann reuniting their former art teacher, Katherine Ross.

“Cascade 2023,” by multidisciplinary artist Zaref, features an installation of recycled, deconstructed case-bound book boards.

The South Gallery hosts Ketchman’s “Resinations,” with mixed media resin visual works.

Rounding out the Library’s art activity is the Westport Artists Collective Affordable Art Trunk Show and Sale. It’s Sunday, October 1 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Library lower parking lot).


Forty Collective members will display their work out of their car trunks. All art is for sale, at affordable prices. ‘

A new family planning book by Westporter Dr. Mark Leondires goes on sale November 14.

“Building Your Family: The Complete Guide to Donor Conception” covers the complex medical and emotional considerations of becoming a parent, from choices (egg, sperm or embryo donation), through selecting a donor, through dealing with the ethical and practical dilemmas of parenthood.

Leondires is the founder and medical director of Illume Fertility. For more information and to pre-order, click here.


Butterflies are free.

And at Burying Hill Beach, they don’t have to worry about fences.

Johanna Keyser Rossi spotted this monarch flitting about yesterday. It did not land, but she “captured” it for posterity — or at least, for our daily “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Johanna Keyser Rossi)


And finally … his name was not well known, but he “entertained” millions of music fans.

Bobby Schiffman, who led Harlem’s Apollo Theater in the 1960s and early ’70s, when it became a storied venue — died last week in Florida. He was 94. Click here for a full (and fascinating) obituary.

And — though after Schiffman’s time — here is Weston’s own Keith Richards, playing at the Apollo too:

(“06880” is truly “Where Westport (and Weston) meet the world.” Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)


“Signs Of Compassion”: Westport Artists In Historic UN Exhibition

Ever since the United Nations moved into its Manhattan headquarters in 1951, the lobby’s rotating art exhibit has been sponsored by member nations.

In October, for what is believed to be the first time, the featured works will be offered by 2 individual artists.

And both are from Westport.

The historic event is the culmination of a multi-year project by Miggs Burroughs and Mark Yurkiw.

Burroughs’ “Signs of Compassion” — 30 lenticular photos, showing local residents using sign language to recite Emily Dickinson’s poem of the same name, and Yurkiw’s accompanying Braille “prayer wheel” mantra, based on those he saw in Bhutan (including a wheelchair-accessible element) — will be displayed on a 102-foot curved wall.

Artist’s rendering of the UN exhibit, including Miggs’ Burroughs’ lenticular photos, and Mark Yurkiw’s Braille prayer wheel (right).

An opening exhibit is set for October 17 (6 p.m.).

Now all that’s left is the fundraising. It’s a great opportunity for “06880” readers to score an invitation to the historic reception.

The $18,000 cost includes producing, printing and mounting the 30 large lenticular images; materials for the “prayer wheel” sculpture, and security for the reception (a UN requirement).

So far, there are $1,000 pledges from former 1st Selectman Jim Marpe (one of the ASL signing models) and his wife Mary Ellen; Bud and Roz Siegel; Christian Trefz; Ann Sheffer and Bill Scheffler; Mike Tewey, and the Westport Library’s restricted artist-in-residence fund (where Burroughs began the project).

All that’s needed is another $12,000. The top 10 donors will be invited to the opening event. (Donation information is at the end of this story.)

Jeanine Esposito signed “without.” She’s one of 30 Westport models in Miggs Burroughs’ “Signs of Compassion.”

The route for the artwork from Westport to the UN was not direct. Yurkiw admired Burroughs’ “signs,” and wanted the organization to showcase it. (Click here for details on that unique piece.)

It took years to find the right people at the UN to help. Then came a search for a letter from a government official. A serendipitous meeting with Congressman Jim Himes’ wife Mary led to a glowing endorsement from Senator Chris Murphy.

More red tape ensued. This will be the first time without sponsorship from a member nation; eventually, UN committees on disabilities and humanitarianism stepped up.

Mark Yurkiw (center, white shirt) meets with UN officials to discuss the upcoming exhibit.

The United Nations works slowly. Yet this fall — at one of its most public places — delegates, staffers and visitors will see Miggs Burroughs and Mark Yurkiw’s stunning art, on full display.

That might not be the end. Yurkiw has visions of taking his and Burroughs’ show on the road: to UN offices in Geneva, the Vatican, perhaps Kyiv.

“Signs of Compassion” will truly be — to use the “06880” tagline — “Where Westport meets the world.”

($12,000 is needed to bring Burroughs and Yurkiw’s exhibition to the UN. Click here to make a tax-deductible contributions can through the project’s partner, the Artists Collective of Westport. When asked “What is this for?,” type “UN Exhibit.”)

Roundup: Flags, Trash, Blood …

Westport just celebrated our annual, wonderful. warm and welcoming jUNe Day.

So let’s start the week with a jUNe Day complaint.

A reader sends this photo —

— and writes:

“I noticed that the Russian flag is flying on the bridge — next to the American flag.

“Shouldn’t that flag come done while we are boycotting and protesting Russia’s invasion of sovereign Ukraine? Additionally, the Russian flag is right at the center of the bridge, next to the American flag — certainly a special spot. Can the town change the flags to reflect the current state of affairs?”


I’ve always been told the flags fly in alphabetical order. Right now, 193 countries are members of the UN. I did not count the flags this year. Besides, I’m no flags-of-the-world expert, so I can’t answer whether they are in alphabetical order or not.

(I would have contacted the Department of Public Works, which sets up and removes the flags each year, but they were closed for the weekend.)

My next thought: Maybe Russia still goes by its former name — the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. That would, amazingly, put it smack next to the United States.

I checked the UN website. Nope: It’s “Russian Federation.”

Then I wondered if the DPW simply uses the same list year after year. The wheels of municipal government grind slowly, but I can’t imagine they’d use a list from the last century without anyone noticing.

Finally, I wondered: What are those other flags next to Russia?

The one on its right seems to be Romania  — which, alphabetically, comes right before Russia.

The one on the left — interrupted by the US — appears to be Rwanda. Bingo!

Perhaps the American flag is placed smack in the middle of the bridge because, hey, this is our country — and Russia just happens, ironically, to be where it is by the luck of the alphabet.

At any rate, there’s no reason to remove the Russian flag, even if the country is an international pariah.

This was jUNe Day, after all.

хорошего дня!


But wait!

The photo above was taken yesterday, during the reproductive rights rally.

The day before, Joel Treisman took a video of the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. It showed a different arrangement of flags flanking ours:

What’s going on?

Sounds like a case for Interpol!


A flag kerfuffle and looming constitutional crisis notwithstanding, this was a perfect weekend for a walk at the beach.

My path took me along Bradley Street. I spotted this subtle — but hopefully strong — reminder to dog owners: Their lawn is not a canine crapper.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

I also noticed an astonishing amount of trash left on the tables outside the Hook’d concession stand, under the brick pavilion roof, and on South Beach.

How difficult is it to take your trash 5 steps to the nearby receptacle?

Westporters love to say, “This is our beach.”

Let’s treat it that way!


The need for blood is constant.

Kick off the holiday weekend by doing something for others. VFW Post 399 hosts its 24th straight monthly Red Cross blood drive this Friday (July 1, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 465 Riverside Avenue).

Click here for an appointment.


Cheese Fries & Froot Loops” — the true, moving and humorous one-man show written and performed by Weston native Chris Fuller about his attempt to make it to the PGA Tour while struggling with bipolar mental illness — debuted at Fairfield Theater Company last month.

It led to an invitation to perform at the United Solo Theater Festival in New York this fall.

First though, Fuller plans 2 shows here, to benefit the Artists Collective of Westport: July 23 and 24, 8 p.m. at the Westport Woman’s Club.

The suggestion donation is $15 a tickets, and includes complimentary wine and cheese.. Funds raised will help provide art supplies and activities to those in need. For reservations, email aspetuck@optonline.net or call 203-349-8786

Fuller — son of famed author John G. Fuller and playwright Elizabeth Fuller — will give away copies of his book “Goodnight, Golf!” after an on-stage putting contest during the show.


Dennis Poster died at home, surrounded by his family. on Friday. He was 82.

The Syracuse native, and Syracuse University graduate ran specialist books on the New York Mercantile Exchange and American Stock Exchange. He later managed D.B. Poster Associates, working from Connecticut to be closer to his family.

He was on the Executive Committee of Weill Cornell Medicine’s Dean Council, was emeritus chair of the JHE Foundation, and served on the boards of The Hole in the Wall Gang Fund, Save our Strays and The Compass Fund. He was also a trustee for The Aronson Family Foundation, which supports education, the arts, healthcare, and animal rescue charities.

Dennis loved golf, Pepe’s Pizza, DQ Blizzards, blackjack, backgammon, Shark Tank, watching CNBC, his cat Shadow, feeding the surrounding wildlife by his home, and most importantly, his family.

He had a near 50-year Father’s Day tradition of mini-golfing with his daughters, and then his grandchildren. He played semi-pro golf, and often joined pro-am golf tournaments with friends. He once shot a 66 at Winged Foot.

Dennis had a big heart, a warm soul and was fiercely loyal to his family and friends. We will miss his contagious chuckle, generosity, sage advice and especially his love.

Dennis is survived by his wife, Joan of 57 years; daughters Meredith and Cindy (David) of Westport; grandchildren Hannah, Lillie, Matthew, Max, Jack and Sam; brother Greg and sister Wendy.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and Let’s Win Pancreatic Cancer.

Dennis Poster


It took 4 years of nursing — inside her house, and on her deck — but Wendy Levy finally got her passionflower to bloom.

What a colorful way to start our “Westport … Naturally” week!

(Photo/Wendy Levy)


And finally … today is National Orange Blossom Day. How will you celebrate?

(“06880” relies on reader donations. To support this blog, please click here.) 

Aye Aye Thant: Meet, Greet, Celebrate World Peace Day

Aye Aye Thant is a longtime Westport resident — and the daughter of former UN Secretary General U Thant. She writes:

This Thursday (September 23, 6 p.m.), the United Nations Association of Southwestern Connecticut celebrates the International Day of Peace at a “Meet, Greet, and Celebrate” event. at the Ned Dimes Marina at Compo Beach.

The event — also known as World Peace Day — was established in 1981 by a unanimous UN resolution. It is observed around the world each year tomorrow (September 21).

Today, in the aftermath of COVID-19, there is another pandemic: hunger. The World Bank has estimated that COVID has pushed as many as 150 million people into extreme poverty (living on less than $1.90 a day).

We need extraordinary efforts and global cooperation to tackle and deal with today’s challenges. With that goal, the United Nations has dedicated this year’s Peace Day to the theme “recovering Better for an Equitable and Sustainable world.”

The UN “invites all nations to celebrate the day by spreading compassion, kindness and hope in the face of the pandemic and as we recover.”

Each year as Peace Day approaches, I reflect on my father’s vision for peace. He said: “Peace is dependent, to a large extent on the achievement of social progress and a higher standard of living. To have lasting peace, there has to be economic and social advancement for all people, and a recognition of the need to bring down the number of human beings living in conditions of poverty, disease, hunger and illiteracy.”

I moved to Westport 20 years ago. I liked to tell Ruth Steinkraus Cohen, the founder of our UNA –USA Southwestern Connecticut Chapter. that I came here because I learned about the activities of the chapter and the International Hospitality Committee of Fairfield County. She loved that.

I was a regular at Wednesday weekly meetings at her home, and was active in all activities of the organization. Ruth was an inspirational figure to many of us, and touched so many lives as a mentor and a friend.

Several years ago Aye Aye Thant spoke at Town Hall, for Westport’s United Nations Day ceremony. 

She wrote, “Westport s a port where one meets the world.” She founded jUNe Day. Westport hosted 500 United Nations staff for a day of fun and sun with the mission of fostering friendship between the people of the UN, the international community, and the American people as hosts.

She believed that it would help to build a bridge between cultures and, in turn, develop an understanding and respect of our differences while taking pride in our own cultures. In recognition of her vision, the bridge crossing the Saugatuck River on Post Road is named in her honor.

After Ruth passed away in May 2002, I was honored to serve as president of the chapter. As Ruth wrote, “As we become better informed about the UN and develop a better understanding of the practical problems involved in building a world community of nations, we will become more UN-minded in our political activity and in the long run will help strengthen public opinion and political support for the United Nations, which after all, is a key element of US foreign policy.”

By understanding the work of the UN, especially in the economic and social sectors, we recognize the interdependence of our existence and how strong multilateral cooperation is needed to achieve peace.

I hope you will join us on September 23, and become members of the UNA-USA to learn more about the role of the UN in advancing peace in the world.

Through a small measure, we shall contribute toward a larger goal: peace for all!


Remembering Martha Aasen: The Sequel

My “06880” tribute to Martha Aasen — the long-time civic and political volunteer who died last week at 90 — mentioned many of her remarkable accomplishments.

Memorial Day 2018 grand marshal Larry Aasen and his wife Martha. (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

The Mississippi native worked tirelessly for the Democratic Party, at the local, state and national levels. She founded the Y’s Women, served as president of the Westport Library Board of Trustees, was a Senior Center board member, and a very active Sunrise Rotarian.

But that’s like saying Mozart “wrote music.”

In fact, Martha Aasen’s achievements fill several pages.

Here’s just a sampling.

Between 1977 and 1990, she held a number of positions with the United Nations Secretariat. They included:

  • Chief, non-governmental organization and institutional relations, Department of Public Information
  • Electoral supervisor, UN transition assistance group, Namibia
  • Chief, public inquiries and group program units, UN Public Services.

Previously, Martha represented the League of Women Voters of the United States at the UN. She organized the largest public meeting ever held there (1,800 people in the General Assembly).

Martha Aasen, in her professional days.

Before the UN, Martha held editorial and publishing positions with McGraw-Hill, Famous Writers Schools and Lyceum Books. She lectured at Southern Connecticut State University, and was an executive recruiter with International Executive Service Corps in Stamford.

Beyond her volunteer efforts mentioned earlier, and her political activity — for which the Democratic Women of Westport gave her a Silver Donkey Award, then named their Yellow Dog Democrat honor after her — she was a moderator and deacon of Saugatuck Congregational Church, a member of the boards of governors and directors of the United Nations Association of the United States, and part of the Mary Baldwin College alumnae board.

Decades ago, Governor William O’Neill named her an “Outstanding Woman of the Decade.”

And … Martha Aasen was also a justice of the peace.

May she now rest in peace.

jUNe Day Busts Out

For the 51st summer, Westport welcomed United Nations diplomats, staff members and their families. Our jUNe Day guests enjoyed soccer, swimming, tennis, and visits to spots like Earthplace and downtown.

Every year on jUNe Day, flags of visitors’ nations replace the American flags on the Post Road’s Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.

So who was Ruth Steinkraus Cohen?

The founder and — for many years — guiding spirit behind the annual event.

There could be no better tribute — and no finer day for our guests.

(PhotoCharlie Colasurdo)

(PhotoCharlie Colasurdo)

Anthony Banbury: “The UN Is Failing”

Anthony Banbury served the United Nations as assistant secretary-general for field support. He dealt with the Haiti earthquake, conflict in the Central African Republic, and the prohibition of chemical weapons in Syria.

His latest assignment was as head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response.

Anthony Banbury

Anthony Banbury

He’s earned kudos for his work around the globe — and at UN headquarters in New York. He commuted there from his Westport home.

Now Banbury is leaving.

In a story to be published in this Sunday’s New York Times — and already posted online — Banbury writes: “I care deeply for the principles the United Nations is designed to uphold. And that’s why I have decided to leave.”

The Westporter describes a

blur of Orwellian admonitions and Carrollian logic that govern the place. If you locked a team of evil geniuses in a laboratory, they could not design a bureaucracy so maddeningly complex, requiring so much effort but in the end incapable of delivering the intended result. The system is a black hole into which disappear countless tax dollars and human aspirations, never to be seen again.

Banbury describes astonishingly, scarily frustrating incidents involving his Ebola work; lack of accountability; decisions driven more by “political expediency” than by the UN’s own values, and more.

A 10-year-old Ebola survivor, and Tony Banbury.

A 10-year-old Ebola survivor, and Tony Banbury.

He concludes:

I am hardly the first to warn that the United Nations bureaucracy is getting in the way of its peacekeeping efforts. But too often, these criticisms come from people who think the United Nations is doomed to fail. I come at it from a different angle: I believe that for the world’s sake we must make the United Nations succeed.

In the run-up to the election of a new secretary general this year, it is essential that governments, and especially the permanent members of the Security Council, think carefully about what they want out of the United Nations. The organization is a Remington typewriter in a smartphone world. If it is going to advance the causes of peace, human rights, development and the climate, it needs a leader genuinely committed to reform.

United Nations

The bureaucracy needs to work for the missions; not the other way around. The starting point should be the overhaul of our personnel system. We need an outside panel to examine the system and recommend changes. Second, all administrative expenses should be capped at a fixed percentage of operations costs. Third, decisions on budget allocations should be removed from the Department of Management and placed in the hands of an independent controller reporting to the secretary general. Finally, we need rigorous performance audits of all parts of headquarters operations.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is a man of great integrity, and the United Nations is filled with smart, brave and selfless people. Unfortunately, far too many others lack the moral aptitude and professional abilities to serve. We need a United Nations led by people for whom “doing the right thing” is normal and expected.

To read Anthony Banbury’s entire piece, click here.

(Hat tip: Maxine Bleiweis)

jUNe Day Busted Out All Over

The weather was cloudy and chilly. A number of potential guests were home celebrating Ramadan.

But Westport’s 50th annual jUNe Day drew nearly 200 United Nations workers and their families to Westport today.

Assistant Secretary-General Carole Wainaina of Kenya and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe traded welcomes at Saugatuck Elementary School. But this was nothing like a General Assembly meeting.

A  little music and a few munchies later, everyone was off: to downtown, Longshore, Compo, Earthplace, Wakeman Town Farm and all points in between.

No translation was needed — beyond the word “fun.”

Flags from around the world replace the Stars and Stripes on jUNe Day. Too bad there was no breeze to flutter them. (Photo/Jim Chillington)

Flags from around the world replace the Stars and Stripes on jUNe Day. Too bad there was no breeze to flutter them. (Photo/Jim Chillington)

No matter where you're from, if you're a little kid it's all about the food. (Photo/Adam Stolpen)

No matter where you’re from, if you’re a little kid it’s all about the food. (Photo/Adam Stolpen)

Visitors from Peru, Spain, Portugal, the Philippines and enljoyed a tour of Wakeman Town Farm, including an expanded chicken coop, productive beehive, and edible marigolds that protect the borders of the gardens from insects.

Visitors from Peru, Spain, Portugal, the Philippines and more enjoyed a tour of Wakeman Town Farm — including an expanded chicken coop, productive beehive, and edible marigolds that protect the gardens from insects. (Photo/Elizabeth Beller)

A pair of Olympians got into the spirit. William Steinkraus Cohen -- brother of jUNe Day founder Ruth Steinkraus Cohen --

A pair of Olympians got into the spirit. Bill Steinkraus — brother of jUNe Day founder Ruth Steinkraus Cohen — was an equestrian in 6 Olympics. He won 1 individual gold medal, and 2 silvers and a bronze as a team member. Ann Marie Flynn of Westport was a high jumper in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.  (Photo/Adam Stolpen)

For 50 years, Westport soccer teams have taken on their UN counterparts. This trophy is a recent addition to the rivalry. (Photo/Adam Stolpen)

For 50 years, Westport soccer teams have taken on their UN counterparts. This trophy is a recent addition to the rivalry. (Photo/Adam Stolpen)

jUNe Day Is Busting Out All Over

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.)

Fun In The UN

The sun came out for the 1st time in a month today — just in time for the hordes of visitors who swarmed here for Westport’s UN Day.

Maybe there is a God.

Or an Allah.

Visitors watch the UN-Westport soccer match at PJ Romano Field.

Visitors watch the UN-Westport soccer match at PJ Romano Field -- under a welcome bright sky.