With thousands of people, interesting military presentations and many attractions for all participants, Bydgoszcz celebrated the 2019 NATO Day. For the third time, the City of Bydgoszcz together with the Joint Force Training Centre (JFTC), all other NATO units based in Bydgoszcz and Polish Armed Forces invited local residents to learn about NATO during an open air event held in Myślęcinek Park on 14 September.
“We are very happy that today we can celebrate the NATO Day in open air, in this lovely Myślęcinek Park, with citizens of Bydgoszcz. This event allows us to show you better who we are and what we do.” – Brigadier General Jozsef Szpisjak, the JFTC Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff, addressed citizens of Bydgoszcz during the opening ceremony. “Thank you, Mayor Bruski, for this initiative. I would also like to thank all the Polish military and non-military units involved in the organization of the day”.
Rafał Bruski, Mayor of Bydgoszcz, highlighted the importance of NATO’s presence in the city: “There are five NATO units in Bydgoszcz, with hundreds of soldiers who serve and train here, and at the same time build NATO military strength. This is a great privilege for our city and also a huge added value. (...) NATO guarantees safety for all citizens of our country.”
The event started with a presentation of all NATO and partner nations represented in Bydgoszcz. For the first time citizens could see a “parade of nations” after which 25 flags – the flag of NATO, of 23 member states and of one Partnership for Peace nation, Georgia - were officially planted on the stage and remained there till the end of the day.
In their stands NATO units presented info materials and activities that engaged not only kids. JFTC invited visitors to verify their knowledge about NATO. Games and puzzles at the JFTC tent attracted hundreds of people who took up the challenge to check what they really knew about the Alliance. Souvenirs they received as tokens of appreciation and photos taken at the JFTC photo wall would certainly keep nice memories of the day alive. There was also a separate NATO tent where visitors could find out about the 70th anniversary of the Alliance and about a significant role of women in NATO.
Additionally, residents of Bydgoszcz had a chance to explore static and dynamic displays of hardware, including vehicles presented by American troops from the bilateral Polish-American operation "Atlantic Resolve", from Poznan and Powidz. All these helped them to better understand the mission of the Alliance.
Among other contests prepared to make the event more attractive, the “terrain massacre” was a special one, very demanding and for tough participants who competed in a five-kilometer run combined with various obstacles. After stiff rivalry among 20 teams, the JFTC team took third place.
Music performances and concerts, playground zones for children, service dogs’ show and famous Polish traditional army-style pea soup completed the day, so even the youngest participants were satisfied.
The NATO Day was also a good opportunity to recognize winners of the 10th NATO Knowledge Competition for primary schools of Bydgoszcz. JFTC has been a patron of the competition since its very beginning, therefore General Szpisjak, together with Mayor of Bydgoszcz and Mrs. Hanna Rauchfleisch, Principal of Primary School No 38, awarded the best participants on the stage.
As the weather during the day was our ally, we had perfect conditions to present NATO and its units based in Bydgoszcz to thousands of citizens.
Thank you for joining us and see you next year!