Thousands of visitors from all over the world flock to our nation’s capital in March and April to catch a glimpse of the spectacular pink flowers that sprout from the city’s many cherry blossom trees.
The streets become absolutely flooded with the delicate pink buds, that are actually native to Japan, not the United States. So, as beloved as these trees may be, it begs the question—how did they get here in the first place?
We have Toyko’s Mayor, Yukio Ozaki, to thank. In 1912, he donated 3,000 of the cherry trees to the city as a sign of friendship between the United States and Japan. It was a bit of a process to transplant the trees into DC, though. The first 2,000, which arrived in 1910, were unfortunately diseased and were not able to survive the transition. Luckily, through the dedication of many, including chemists, horticulturists, and former first lady Helen Herron Taft, 3,000 trees made their way into the city in 1912, where they were planted on the banks of the Potomac River.
Nowadays, the blooming of the trees is commemorated with a multi-week festival that, depending on the timing of the blooms, occurs in March or early April. First ladies still play a large part in the ceremony, giving speeches and welcoming honored guests into town.
For those who venture to DC to catch the trees in bloom, there are plenty of other exciting activities to partake in, such as the Blossom Kite Festival—held each year on the grounds of the Washington Monument—and the first-ever Petalpalooza, which will feature interactive games, live music, and a firework show.
For more info, visit nationalcherryblossomfestival.org.