Cherry Blossom Fever

By Kat Kaderabek

The annual blooming of the cherry blossom trees bring out the best in Catholic University’s campus, ushering in warm weather marked by the flip flops and shorts seen through Spring. Spring in The District is a long-anticipated time of year, and this year has been no exception. Both new and returning students took advantage of all that these historical trees have to offer.

While the historic blossoms and parade are located only a few Metro stops away from campus on the Red Line, there are cherry blossoms closer to home as well. Several cherry blossom trees line the edge of the Basilica along Harewood Road, leaving ample opportunity for Catholic University students to experience the beauty of the trees right on campus.

In addition to the trees along the Basilica, there are many more planted along the Tidal Basin which circles several D.C. monuments including the Jefferson Memorial.

Over 3,000 cherry blossom trees were originally given as a gift from the mayor of Tokyo to the United States in 1912 as a celebration of the friendship between the Japanese and the American people. The first two trees were planted on the northern bank of the Tidal Basin by First Lady Taft and the mayor of Tokyo’s wife. There is currently a plaque beneath the trees, commemorating the historical event. Over 107 years later, the cherry blossoms continue to attract thousands of tourists, along with the majority of Catholic University students.

The blooming of the cherry blossoms exist in a short window, averaging about two weeks per year before the flowers begin to wilt and fall. This year, the blossoms reached their peak bloom on April 1st.

“It is a beautiful scene that you don’t fully understand until you see it yourself,” said freshman Anthony Grieco who hails from Massachusetts. “Some of my favorite experiences in college have been the times I’ve gone to the festival, either to take pictures at sunrise or just lay out on a blanket to read under the blossoms.”

Connecticut resident, Connor Gerrity also took advantage of the beauty D.C. has to offer.

“Living in DC during cherry blossom season was honestly surreal,” said Gerrity. “Some friends and I hopped on the metro at like 5:30 one morning, saw the sunrise over the trees at the Tidal Basin, and we made it back for LC’s. It’s a really magical time to be in this city.”

Exploring around the cherry blossoms is truly a D.C. must for many local college students. Even for weathered upperclassmen, the cherry blossoms are a sight to behold. Sophomore Nadia Carlino highlighted her day underneath the blooms. “I went with two of my friends from Catholic and we just walked around and enjoyed the nice day,” said Carlino. “We went for about half of the day and took pictures by the water. The streets were filled with food trucks, so we took advantage and had a little picnic underneath the cherry blossom trees.”

At the conclusion of peak cherry blossom season, a parade is held to highlight the festival. Architecture and Civil Engineering major, Julia Schlottman, from Poughkeepsie, New York,  attended the parade with her visiting relatives.

“The parade acted as a wonderful conclusion to the festival,” she explained. “The amount of time spent preparing for the parade as well as the apparent effort the volunteers and performers put forth during the parade itself really gives testament to the importance the cherry blossoms as an American tradition.”

The festival included several bands, dance groups, and companies from across the nation. The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” performed during the parade and other groups such as The Tamagawa University Dance and Tiako Group participated as well.

Included in the parade are the two Cherry Blossom Queens, one from Japan and the other from the United States as well as several Cherry Blossom Princesses, who wore dresses which were reminiscent of the flowers themselves.  

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