In Washington, D.C., an annual sign that spring has sprung is the arrival of the cherry blossoms. This year, the unusually warm weather has caused the buds to bloom a few weeks earlier than normal, bringing with them a milestone celebration in honor of the blossoms’ 100th anniversary.
The 100th anniversary events will begin March 20, earlier than usual, and will go until April 27, later than the usual two weeks. The blossoms are expected to peak this year between March 24 and March 31. The average peak bloom date is April 4, but the capricious blossoms have peaked as early as March 15 in 1990 and as late as April 18 in 1958, said Robert DeFeo, the National Park Service’s veteran blossom forecaster.
First Lady Helen Taft planted the first Japanese cherry blossom tree on the Tidal Basin March 27, 1912. The initial 3,020 trees were a gift of friendship from Tokyo to Washington. Over the following 100 years, the blossoms have become one of the city’s premier tourist attractions and an international hallmark of Washington, D.C.
The opening ceremony, usually held at the National Building Museum, is set for Sunday, March 25, and will be held at the Washington Convention Center for the first time. Sara Bareilles, the Children’s Ballet of Washington, Japanese artist Misia and others will preform.
Many will also take advantage of the spring weather to fly kites during the Blossom Kite Festival March 31 on the National Mall.
Also, the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival April 7 will run from 1:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and will feature live music, activities for young kids and food and drinks from neighborhood vendors.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade April 14 will feature Katie Couric, Alex Trebec and Leon Harris as announcers. Celebrity appearances will include Kristi Yamaguchi and Javier Colon, the 2011 winner of “The Voice.”