When cherry blossoms bloom, you know it's spring


March 27, 1994|By Dorothy Fleetwood | Dorothy Fleetwood,Contributing Writer

Believe it or not, spring is here. One sure sign is the opening of the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival tomorrow in the nation's capital. At last check, the National Park Service reported that tree blooming is expected to take place between April 4 and 10. For updated information, call (202) 619-PARK.

This year's festival has been expanded to two full weeks through April 10, and it is filled with receptions, concerts, sports tournaments, fashion shows, a cultural festival and an arts festival, a river cruise, a gala ball and a 2 1/2 -hour parade. The opening ceremony will take place tomorrow evening at the Kennedy Center and will feature the crowning of the Cherry Blossom Queen.

The festival celebrates the 82nd anniversary of the gift of 3,000 cherry trees from the mayor of Tokyo to the city of Washington in 1912. Thousands of cherry trees now line the Tidal Basin and Washington's streets and parks. During the spring bloom, the city takes on a magical quality that attracts thousands of visitors each year.

Among the many festival attractions are daily noon-hour concerts at Freedom Plaza Thursday to April 7. Eleven of Japan's master sushi chefs will offer demonstrations April 6 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Georgia Brown's Restaurant, 950 15th St. N.W. Reservations are required; call (202) 393-4499. The Sakura Matsuri is a cherry-blossom festival within a festival, presented by the Japan-America Society April 9 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Freedom Plaza. Activities include interpretive dancing by Japanese and African Heritage dancers, a flute performance, a one-man band, classical Japanese theater, drummers, samples for children from Japanese candy man, martial arts demonstrations, a Koi exhibit, games, gifts and food from area Japanese restaurants.

Other events include the traditional lantern-lighting ceremony at the Tidal Basin at 4 p.m. April 3; a dinner cruise on the Spirit of Washington, April 7; the Cherry Blossom Gala at the Mayflower Hotel, April 8; the National Cherry Blossom Parade on Constitution Avenue, between 7th and 17th streets Northwest, from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. April 9; and the annual Festival Regatta, sponsored by the George Washington University Rowing Team, April 9. On the final day you can enjoy the Southwest Waterfront Arts Festival from noon to dusk, a paddle-boat regatta on the Tidal Basin at 3 p.m., and the closing ceremony and concert with live entertainment and festivities at 4 p.m. at the Southwest Waterfront. Call (202) 646-0366.

Other noteworthy events in Washington during cherry blossom time include:

* The Blessing of the Fleet ceremony will be held Saturday at the Navy Memorial, 701 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., at noon. There will be concerts by the Navy Band's Country Current and Ceremonial bands, hourly showings of the award-winning film "At Sea," costumed interpreters recalling America's naval and maritime heritage, and samples of authentic navy-bean soup for everyone. Admission is free.

* As part of Japan Culture Week, the Japan Information and Cultural Center, Embassy of Japan, will hold Japan Festival 1994 April 4-8 at the center, 1155 21st St. N.W. Events include a Japanese film festival, porcelain exhibition, flower-arranging demonstration, tea ceremony (an authentic tea house was constructed for the ceremony), painting exhibition, theatrical performance and musical performances. All events are free, but reservations are required for the film festival. Call (202) 939-6949.

* A celebration of American music and dance will be presented at the National Museum of American History, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, April 8 and 9. Performances by the Fiddle Puppets; the award-winning cuatro player Edwin Colon Zayas y Su Taller Campesino; Cellicion Dance Group, a family of Native-American performers; a blues band led by Billy Branch; Adoration-N-Prayze, a women's gospel group; Cajun music by Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys; Native Hawaiian Band and Ghettoriginal Productions Dance Company, a combination African-American and Hispanic hip-hop group. The free performances will be held in Carmichael Auditorium from noon to 4 p.m. and in Flag Hall at 8 p.m. Call (202) 357-2700.

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