**FILE** The splendor of D.C.'s cherry blossoms (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)
**FILE** The splendor of D.C.'s cherry blossoms (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)

Later-than-usual snowfall and chilly temperatures in the District have affected earlier predictions for the date of the peak bloom for thousands of delicate cherry blossoms that call the Tidal Basin their home.

But National Park Service officials say they’ve started to see more flowers slowing peeking out and believe the best time to witness Mother Nature’s splendor will now be April 8-12.

So, while we may have to wait just a little longer before the blooms dominate the scene, the National Cherry Blossom Festival has officially begun, kicking off in its usual grand style at the Warner Theater in Northwest on Sunday, April 25. The festive opening, delayed some 24 hours, made way for crowds expected to surpass 500,000 as they swarmed into the area to attend March for Our Lives events held on the previous day.

Following the opening ceremony of the four-week festival, also the start of the tourism season, numerous events will take place throughout the greater Washington area, ushering in the annual blooming of the cherry blossoms as well as thousands of visitors eager to witness the splendor of the blooming trees.

Those fortunate enough to secure a ticket for the opening, watched highly-celebrated performers known around the world who treated the audience to both traditional and contemporary forms of dance and song.

Performers included: singer Takanori Nishikawa, known to his global followers, particularly among Japanimation fans, as T.M.Revolution; Akiko Yano, a native of Tokyo with 27 original albums under her belt and said to be a “girl with a musical wonder”: The 6821 Quintet, a classical ensemble created by The Ryuji Ueno Foundation as part of the Potomac Music-Lab Project which premiered a specially-composed piece and marked its third appearance for the opening; and the Shodo Girls, a group of high school students whose award-winning club has been praised for its members’ dynamic performance and innovative calligraphy composition. Once again, the opening showcased amazing American and Japanese talent while highlighting the unique relationship that exists between the two countries.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival, one of the District’s largest annual events, welcomes springtime to D.C. and helps local residents and tourists alike pay homage to the anniversary of the gift of trees from Japan to the U.S. – trees that whether in the U.S. or Japan, have long symbolized birth and renewal. The evening ended with a Pink Carpet Reception, supported by Mitsui Fudosan America, held at the National Press Club in Northwest.

For a complete listing of events including fireworks, concerts, family-friendly entertainment around the Tidal Basin and National Mall, kite flying and the fan-favorite parade, visit the official website, www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org.

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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