This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of So Scottsdale! magazine.
Washington, D.C. is much more than politics and what happens behind the closed doors of Capitol Hill and the Oval Office. One of the most iconic symbols of Washington, D.C. in the springtime is the cherry blossom tree. Celebrate the nation’s heritage among the beautiful blooms during the month-long Cherry Blossom Festival, which runs from March 20 through April 16 this year.
History of the Trees
Cherry trees haven’t always been a part of the District’s landscape. In March 1912, Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki transferred 3,000 cherry trees from the banks of Japan’s Arakawa River to the banks of the Potomac as a gift to First Lady Helen Herron Taft.
Three short decades later, however, the U.S. found itself at war with Japan, and after some of the trees were cut down, the government started calling them “Oriental flowering cherry trees” to protect them. The ploy worked and the trees survived. Following the war, the trees became a symbol of renewed goodwill between the U.S. and Japan. In 1965, Japan gifted another 3,800 trees to Lady Bird Johnson.
The gifts and annual celebration honor the lasting friendship between the U.S. and Japan.
National Cherry Blossom Festival
With so many flowering trees dotting the nation’s capital city, it seems only appropriate to celebrate them. For four weekends stretching from mid-March through mid-April, millions of people come from around the world to celebrate the arrival of spring, marked by the trees’ iconic pink blooms.
The festival is filled with events, most of which are free and open to the public.
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