Why Are There Cherry Blossoms in D.C.?

John-Chwat-CherryThe U.S. Congress may be leaving Washington D.C. for their two-week spring break but it is a perfect time for tourists to come and enjoy the city’s beauty. Springtime in Washington D.C. is full of vibrant pink flowers from the trees that surround the historic monuments of the city. The cherry blossoms in D.C. have been there for over 100 years and are a staple for tourism within the city. There is a deep history behind the trees and a culture that continues to celebrate them every year.

 

The History

The cherry blossom trees were given to the United States from Japan on March 27, 1912, to continue the growing relationship between the two countries. They were given by the mayor of Tokyo City to show a physical symbol of a lasting relationship between the two nations.

The first round of 2,000 trees arrived in D.C. diseased in 1910 but that did not leave any animosity between the countries. It took a team of world-renowned chemists to safely transport over 3,000 trees to the city in 1912. William Taft was president at the time of the transaction. The first lady and the wife of the Japanese ambassador planted the first two trees in West Potomac Park. Woodrow Wilson was in office when the U.S. sent Japan dogwood trees as a thank you for the cherry blossoms.

 

The Cherry Blossom Festival

Since the original commencement of the first gift offering, the tradition has continued over the past 100 years. The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a spring event in Washington, D.C. that commemorates the gifts from Japan back in 1912. The festival includes a pink-everything parade, a run, and other events celebrating the Japanese pink trees.

The festival is put on by the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Inc. which is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the beauty of nature and international friendship through year-round programs, events, and educational initiatives. The organization promotes everything regarding the festival from tracking the day the trees bloom to getting the community active within the festivities.

Many people come to D.C. for the sole purpose of seeing these beautiful trees. The bloom date for the trees varies year to year. The average date of peak bloom is defined by when 70% of the flowers on the tree are open. The date of which the National Park Service has deemed the average day of bloom is April 4th. A bloom tracker goes live on their website during the spring season. NPS also has a predicted day of bloom in which visitors can plan trips around. The one rule is that you can only come to see the cherry blossoms. It is against the law to pluck a cherry blossom from the tree.

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