WASHINGTON -- An international gift made 87 years ago has blossomed
into one of the premier tourist events in the nation's capital.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival (NCBF) offers visitors here
a slate of activities that culminates with the Cherry Blossom
Parade and the Sakura Matsuri, or cherry blossom festival,
scheduled for April 10.
The festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees to
President William Howard Taft and First Lady Helen Herron Taft by
Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo.
The 1999 festival will include an Arlington National Cemetery
grave site tribute to President Taft, who requited Ozaki's deed
with a gift of dogwood trees.
Historical ceremonies, such as the lighting of a 300-year-old
stone lantern, will expose visitors to a few of the traditional
observances of Japanese culture. The festival culminates with the
Cherry Blossom Festival Parade and a food expo called Taste of
"This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the diversity of
Washington and a perfect way to bring to a close the annual Cherry
Blossom Festival," said Allyson O'Sullivan, president of the
Downtown Jaycees, who cosponsor the event with the Japan-America
The Saturday finale features a flotilla of lighted boats
motoring along the Washington Channel. This is the first year the
flotilla will be staged. National Cherry Blossom Festival, Phone:
(202) 547-1500, Web: www.gwjapan.com/cherryblossom