By ASHRAF KHALIL Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Cherry Blossom Festival is back in full swing, hailed as Washington’s unofficial resurgence after two years of pandemic caps and closures.
“This year, more than ever, you really understand why the festival is so important,” said Diana Mayhew, president of the festival. “We recognize that it is more than a festival. It’s about spring and renewal and a feeling of new beginnings.”
This year’s cherry blossoms will reach their peak bloom between March 22 and 25, according to estimates from the National Park Service. the the festival begins
with an opening ceremony on March 20 and will run until April 17, with concerts and other events, including a grand parade on Saturday April 9.
The weather isn’t exactly cooperating right now. Snow and freezing rain are expected this weekend. But that shouldn’t hurt the trees’ growth, said Mike Litterst, a spokesman for the National Mall Park Service. Temperatures below 80 degrees can damage flowers, something that happened in 2017, when a late freeze killed the half of the flowers.
But Litterst said: “They are still well entrenched. The armor of the buds protects the flowers. A week or so in the future, if this were to happen, we would have some major concerns. I think we’ll be fine this time.”