Cherry blossoms: Spring celebration in Washington DC
On March 27 1912, Yukio Ozaki, then mayor of Tokyo, gave 3000 cherry trees to Washington DC, a symbolic present to honor the friendship between Japan and the United States of America. Today, more than a century later, that date is remembered with a festival that has become a tradition in the American capital. Since 1935, Washingtonians celebrate the beginning of Spring with the National festival of cherry blossom. The celebrations that at first lasted few days during the cherry blossom season, nowadays are 4 weeks of events and celebrations that attract more than 1 million visitors.
As the pink cherry blossoms transform the Potomac’s banks and the Tidal Basin into an enchanted wonderland, the city offers numerous events to celebrate the friendship and collaboration between the United States and Japan. This year, on March 18, the Pink Tie Party kicked off the celebrations. The jet set of DC came together to celebrate international friendship and Spring, and while wandering between food and wine stations, they bid on silent auction items. All the proceeds from the party benefit, throughout the year, all the events and initiatives promoted by the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Inc. a non-for-profit organization.
On March 26, the official opening of the Festival took place at the historic Warner Theater, to welcome Spring and celebrate the gift of trees from Japan to the United States. Internationally renowned artists entertained the audience with both traditional and modern performances, from classical music to Jazz.
The festival welcomes visitors of any age. Families with young children will easily find events and activities that also the little ones can enjoy: amongst the favorites, the Blossom kite festival where thousands of kites fly in the sky above the National Mall; or the “Family Day” at the National Building Museum, where young and old can learn about origami, Japanese garden planning, or meet DuAro the Kawasaki’s robot.
As it is the case with most big event, also the National Cherry blossom festival is made possible by the generosity of supporters and donors. In the American business vision, investing in cultural and art events is another way to make your brand and name known. An example? This year the southwest waterfront firework festival, on April 9th, will be presented by Harris Teeter, the famous American supermarket chain.
Contemporary art also features promptly at the National Cherry blossom festival. Every year an official artist is chosen. The poster for this year’s Festival edition is signed by Thomas Burns, from Atlanta. In Burns’ poster, thanks to his unique digital technique that reminds handmade cartoons, Spring breaks out in an explosion of cherry blossom and colors among the capital most iconic monuments.
This year’s celebrations will close, on April 16th, with the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade on Constitution Avenue, and the Sakura-Matsury, the Japanese street festival. More than 80 cultural groups will entertain the public with arts vendors, food stands and martial arts performances.
The National cherry blossom festival is the event that heralds the beginning of Springtime. Washingtonians await this celebration not only for its traditional symbolism, but also because as it very well represents America’s deep multiculturalism.
Chiara Filippi born in Venice, has a Master in International relations and Diplomatic Studies from Trieste University, and a specialization in International Information from the Complutense University of Madrid. She has been working and consulting with NGOs and the UN for several years and had been living in Africa and the Middle East. She now lives in the US, with her family, from where she started a new collaboration with ItalianDirectory.