Yesterday, June 23rd, 2013, the city of Jounieh awoke slightly earlier than it usually would on a Sunday morning, and the streets quickly filled up at an unusual hour. In fact, the streets had been buzzing with activity from the evening of Saturday June 22nd, welcoming dozens of NGO and Lebanese universities readying themselves for Jounieh’s Green Day. The coastal city went green to promote the importance of protecting and respecting the environment, in the framework of the 2013 Jounieh International Festival, organized by the NGO Phellipolis.
As early as 6 am, motorized vehicles no longer had access to the streets of Jounieh. NGOs, universities and florists had set up their kiosks and were getting ready to welcome throngs of Lebanese citizens who wanted to prove their love of Mother Nature while having a good time. The day officially kicked off at 9 am and went on till 5 pm and included cultural and social activities as well as entertainment and sports. Celebrities, journalists and political figures and social personalities were on deck to officially open the day’s activities and to support the city’s initiative for a handicapped-friendly ramp and parking project, inspired by the Walk With Us foundation. The president of the Jounieh municipality, a representative of Phellipolis joined their voices to that of Mike Haddad, who lost the use of his legs in a sports accident, to announce this initiative. Jounieh will be the first in Lebanon to undertake such a project, and the news was received by general approval and applause.
The day’s activities went on with professional bicycle, roller blade and skateboard shows as well as parades and activities to suit everyone’s fancy. People were called to bring their own bikes, roller blades or skateboards to enjoy this car-free day, but they could also rent bikes, Segways and other nature-friendly means of transportation at the Fouad Chehab Stadium. Little ones and beginners could also benefit from the experience of professional trainers who were giving first-time lessons and advice to all. The day also included a professional bicycle race which delighted the fans of this sport and onlookers alike.
On the non-sports side, NGOs, universities and florists provided calmer, but still eco-friendly entertainment. NGOs offered foodstuff, books, DVDs, CDs and the product of their artisanal work; universities, who greatly participated in the organization of this day and offered their unwavering support to this initiative, presented their eco-projects (solar panels, electric cars…) and their approaches to protecting nature from a new perspective. Florists were the stars of this colorful day under the delighted gazes of nature-lovers. Music, a food court, entertainment, shows, sports activities in an safe environment made this day a true green hit.