Cherry Blos­som Fes­ti­val 101

CEL­E­BRAT­ING 90 YEARS

Where Washington - - CONTENS - BY CORINNE WHIT­ING

From the pad­dle boats to the pa­rade, your guide to a bloomin’ good time at the city’s spring­time spec­tac­u­lar.

No mat­ter how many his­toric post­cards or mod­ern­day self­ies you’ve seen of D.C.’s ex­quis­ite cherry trees, noth­ing can pre­pare you for ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the cap­i­tal in its pink-hued prime. Spring here is syn­ony­mous with the Na­tional Cherry Blos­som Fes­ti­val, a nearly cen­tury-old tra­di­tion that com­mem­o­rates Ja­pan’s gift of more than 3,000 cherry trees to D.C. in 1912, thanks to Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki (above). This year marks the 90th an­niver­sary of the first cel­e­bra­tion, a small af­fair at­tended by for­mer first lady Helen Taft, which fea­tured a re-en­act­ment of the first planting, a pageant of Ja­panese myths and a chil­dren’s per­for­mance of the “Cherry Pe­tal Bal­let.” The 2017 fes­ti­val runs from March 20 to April 16, but be­fore then the city col­lec­tively holds its breath as it awaits the first blos­soms, which have opened as early as March 15 and as late as April 18. Though the trees re­main in full bloom for only about five days, fes­ti­val events oc­cur daily for four weeks. Spring into this joy­ful sea­son with the help of our guide.

Yukio Ozaki with his daugh­ters

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