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An Untraditional Traditional Cherry Blossom Festival

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

By Claire Prudhomme

Cherry blossom season is just around the corner and COVID-19 has once again impacted the traditional celebrations of these beautiful flowers. The 2020 cherry blossom season was overshadowed by the pandemic, but the 2021 cherry blossom season promises to have some of the most beautiful blooms ever seen.

It took more than 15 years to send the 3,020 trees to the United States and planted around the Tidal Basin. The two original trees, planted by First Lady Helon Herron Taft and the wife of the Japanese ambassador, Viscountess Chinda, still stand on 17th Street SW. 

The Cherry Blossom Festival began in 1935 after years of smaller events occurring in the D.C. region in reference to the beautiful trees. Many events have come as a result of these trees throughout the years: the Cherry Blossom Pageant, cuttings and propagation from the branches to preserve the tree’s genetic lineage, and a continued horticulture exchange between Japan and the United States.

This year, with the complication of COVID-19 to the Cherry Blossom Festivals traditions, the typical practices of the festival will be performed a bit differently. Peak blooms begin from the end of March to early April, but in-person events and pedestrian access will be limited to these sightings.  The Festival will be sponsoring virtual events, such as the Art in Bloom Blossom Hunt, the Porch Parade, the Pink Tie Party, and the Blossom Kite fly

The Art in Bloom Blossom Hunt features a scavenger hunt of 26 sculptures that encapsulate the beauty of the cherry blossom. The Porch Parade encourages people at home to decorate the outside of their homes to emulate spring in D.C. residences. This event attempts to encourage the creation of stronger and livelier communities within neighborhoods in such trying times. 

The Blossom Kite Fly is an event that has been going on for 51 years. Registration for the Kite Fly lasts until March 27, and the event occurs, from the comfort of a home, March 27-28. Those who register will receive free access to demonstrations and workshops regarding the art of kite flying.

The Cherry Blossom Festival isn’t the only place to get spring fever. Restaurants and businesses all over town are featuring cherry blossom-themed items for incoming customers. Fast food places like BGR and Shake Shack have released cherry blossom milkshakes, and Patisserie Poupon has pink-themed pastries for people with a sweet tooth.

The Wharf will also be hosting their free event, Bloomaroo. The waterfront dining restaurants will have special cherry blossom-themed menus. ARTECHOUSE will display a special blossom-themed mural, and specialty cocktails are bound to keep the festivities going. The D.C. Chalk Walk will also host a multitude of outdoor events where people can find themselves exploring the beautiful chalk designs just outside Gallery Place. 

Although the Cherry Blossom Festival looks different this year, the D.C. community has stepped in to ensure a level of normalcy to this age-old tradition. Each week features a new event, and most are free, which makes it a perfect time to celebrate for college students. 

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