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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Town Celebrates 49th jUNe Day

By James Lomuscio

As flags of United Nations member countries billowed on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge today, the legacy of the bridge’s namesake—the 49th annual jUNeDay celebration in town—was under way at the Saugatuck Elementary School.

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Johnston Barkat (r), ombudsman, who heads mediation services at the United Nations, presented a framed photo of flags on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge to First Selectman Jim Marpe (l). Bill Hass, president of the United National Association of Southwestern Connecticut, looks on.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

More than 285 U.N. staff, delegates and their families from 43 countries had gathered for a welcoming breakfast to jump start a day in town that included visits to Longshore Club Park, Earthplace, the Westport Historical Society, Compo Beach and Wakeman Town Farm. Another highlight, appropriate in the midst of World Cup fever, was a planned soccer match between the Westport Late Knights and the U.N. team.

“I love this day because for one day our town becomes incredibly international,” said Michaela MacColl, the event’s chairwoman for the past 12 years. “Many of our guests never had a chance to come to a small American town, and they love it here.”

Bill Hass, president of the United National Association of Southwestern Connecticut, noted that jUNe Day held special significance for him. In 1978, he was a junior staff member at the United Nations and came to Westport for the first time, eventually moving to town.

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