Tuesday, 28 August 2007

The Lille Braderie and my mini "Race for the cure"

The countdown to the Lille Braderie has begun. Well, actually it began a couple weeks ago when people began camping out at the park and leaving various notes all over town reserving their space (We happen to live on one of the main axes, so I plan on taking pictures later today so stay posted).

Legend has it that the Lille Braderie originated a couple hundred years ago. Back then, the wealthy were so generous that once a year they allowed their domestic employees to sell things from their attic from sundown to sunrise one day a year. The 31st of September (edited: 31st August! a little confused with my calendar, huh?) was the set date in 1523 (according to wikipedia). Or something like that. The Lille Braderie is now the largest flea market in Europe. These days, it's much less vide grenier (or yard sale if there were yards here) and much more flea market, schlock and expensive antique dealers all gathered in Lille for a messy, noisy, smelly weekend. Since it's always held the first weekend in September, it's the first official day you can eat mussels (only in months with "r"). One of the highlights at the end of the weekend is seeing which restaurant has piled up the most mussel shells. Broken mussel shells and broken bottles puncture bike tires for weeks following...

As you can imagine, many locals and quasi-locals like myself tend to skip town.

The Braderie opens with the half-marathon and 10k races. I've run one or the other every year since 1999, except 2 (2000 because I was living in the US and 2006 because I had just given birth). Whereas in the US, many athletes will run for a cause, like being sponsored by the Cancer Assocation or the likes, here...well, let's just say I'm working single-handed to collect money for la Ligue contre le cancer.

In 2005, the first time I took up this initiative, the regional chairman basically said "wonderful! you run and then give us money". That year, I had a white t-shirt with Ligue contre le cancer stickers all over. This year is a little more organized; I'll be wearing a bright orange t-shirt with their logo and will even have a mini-press release in the Ligue's newsletter. We've also convinced a friend at the local paper to write an article.

This may not seem like such a big deal to most Americans, but trying to get private donations in France is really difficult. See, in France, private donations are rare because the State provides money for humanitarian organizations. So asking people for donations is not only a foreign idea (no pun intended) but can spark diplomatic incident.

Wish me luck and please take this opportunity to donate to cancer research and support (or any other cause that's close to your heart) wherever you may be!

4 comments:

Riana said...

rah rah!! goo go!! I wont be going to the Lille Braderie this year but have gone in the past. fun times :)

Madame M. said...

The 31st of September? Is that a joke?

Good luck on your race and with the shells.... yikes!

Reb said...

just a little confused about the date these days...

wcs said...

Have a great run !

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