Spring is a popular season for many people, and nowhere is this more evident than in Washington, DC. Spring in nation’s capital heralds more than simply the coming of warmer weather, the majestic cherry blossom trees bloom this season, providing a dazzling sight of lovely pink blooms. If you visit DC in the spring, you’ll be there just in time to see the cherry blossoms and take part in the myriad celebrations that accompany their arrival.
The Cherry Blossom Festival had a humble origin as an annual event. Small celebrations were held to celebrate Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo’s gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the city of Washington, DC. On March 27, 1912, the inaugural ceremony was just the planting of the first two Japanese trees by then-First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, the Japanese ambassador’s wife. Since then, the US and Japan have exchanged presents every year, including blossoming dogwood trees from the US to the Japanese people in 1915.
The First Lady’s Involvement-
It has been a tradition for the First Lady to participate in the annual Cherry Blossom Festival every year since First Lady Taft’s involvement. All of the First Ladies have been enthusiastic supporters of the festival, serving as honorary chairperson, participating in planting ceremonies, and greeting visitors during the opening ceremonies.
- 1927: DC school children re-enacted the initial planting and other activities, holding the first real festival.
- 1935: DC civic groups helped to expand the festivities.
- 1994: The Cherry Blossom Festival expanded to a two week event to accommodate the ever changing blooming schedule of the cherry trees.
- 2012: The 100th year anniversary of the original gift from Japan was celebrated with a 5 week celebration.