What better way to welcome spring then commemorating the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Tokyo, Japan, to Washington, D.C.? The National Cherry Blossom Festival will begin at the end of March and welcomes over 1.5 million people to soak in the number of creative and diverse programs.
The Cherry Blossom Festival officially began in March 1934. After a series of persuasive letters by the National Geographic Society, First Lady Helen Herron Taft requested cherry trees to plant along, what was at the time, the Tidal Basin speedway. The first cherry tree planted along Tidal Basin was in 1914, but the annual festival wouldn’t begin till years later.
Every year D.C. hosts a wide variety of entertaining events in celebration of the beauty and heritage behind these pink and white flowers and the branches that have held them strong for a century. According to The Cherry Blossom Watch the trees are kept under close watch to ensure they remain pure cherry trees. “About 400 trees propagated from the surviving 1912 trees were planted to ensure the genetic heritage of the original donation is maintained.” The Blossom Watch said to source
The festival is four weeks long, beginning Mar. 20 and ending April 14. The opening ceremony takes place on Saturday, Mar. 23, at the Warner Theatre in D.C. from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. All the performances held at the Warner Theatre honour Japanese heritage.
People in the DMV area are excited to see the flowers bloom. Sophomore Emily Olivera can’t wait to see the Cherry Blossoms. “I enjoy seeing the flowers every year. All the different programs are pretty and calming. There’s a lot of performances. You can’t really ever be bored. Thankfully it’s usually a good weather to,o” Olivera said.
Families and friends gather to observe the four-week event. Sophomore Erin Chang enjoys the festival with her friends. “There’s a lot to do in DC year round, but springtime definitely brings out the best in D.C. The Cherry Blossom festival is my favorite spring thing to do in D.C. It’s just so pretty and smells great,” Chang said.
The celebration of Japanese culture rings through the capital over the four-week span. Parades and programs are scattered throughout the DMV. Freshman Leona Berhane and her family relish in the culture. “We don’t go to the celebrations but my mom loves Japanese culture so we have a lot of cherry tree type decorations up,” Berhane said.
The peak bloom time for Cherry Blossoms this year is predicted to be April 3-6. The prime place to see the blossoms will be at the Tidal Basin where the majority of the trees are located and along the shoreline of East Potomac River. It’s a perfect spot for photo ops near the Jefferson Memorial. Though April is the prime bloom period, it’d be time well spent regardless of when you decide to go. Just remember to not pick them, it’s illegal.