WASHINGTON—”Puffy White”. That’s how the National Cherry Blossom Festival describes the current and final stage of blooms for the iconic Japanese blossoms which attract scores of visitors to Washington year.
The pink and white blossoms decorating the rows of Yoshino cherry trees were still several days away from their peak bloom on Friday (March 29), the National Park Service said on its website, but that did not stop visitors from strolling around the Tidal Basin ahead of what is expected to be larger crowds over the weekend.
“It’s amazing and they’re beautiful but they’re not quite out all the way yet,” said Annandale, Virginia, resident Adele Lynn, “so I have to come back and get to see the second stage of the fourth stage or whatever.”
The National Park Service defines the peak bloom date as the day on which 70% of the blossoms are open. It identifies five bloom stages on its website, from Stage 1 which shows a “green color in the buds” through Stage 5 or “puffy white” blooms.
Many visitors may be tourists who see the Washington blossoms for the first time while others are area residents who try to come each year.
Chenya Sanchez who lives in Reston, Virginia, south of Washington, said she sees plenty of cherry trees in Northern Virginia so Friday’s display just short of the peak wasn’t as “impressive” for her as she had imagined. But that didn’t bother her.
“I think what I like to see is reading the history that’s connected,” Sanchez said. “Reading the plaques and seeing that this isn’t just ‘oh something nice to see once a year’. There’s an actual history and deeper connection.”
The annual festival commemorates the gift of 3,000 cherry trees made by the mayor of Tokyo to the city of Washington in 1912. The festival spans several weeks and offers some 50 events and programs including the popular kite flying display.
Organizers say the festival attracts over 1.5 million people and consider the event one of the most high profile celebrations of spring in the world.