By Southwester Staff

Courtesy of NPS

An oft-repeated pandemic refrain is “the coronavirus doesn’t care” about various phenomena like borders, the NCAA basketball tournament, campaign rallies, and so on. In DC, we might say cherry trees “don’t care” about the pandemic. 

At the time we wrote this piece, the cherry blossoms had started blooming, and planning for the national festival was well underway. However, Washington’s famous cherry trees, a gift from Japan more than a century ago, have outpaced the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. With herd immunity just beyond reach, the National Cherry Blossom Festival “will look different this year,” according to an announcement from DC Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative. 

The DC-based nonprofit is inviting District students K-12 students, as well as students from Japanese schools, to participate in the Cherry Blossom Festival Student Art Gallery. Students submitted artwork depicting the theme “Home is Where the Blossoms Are,” with a special focus on Friendship, the group’s press release said in an email from DC Library on Feb. 15. 

The city’s Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) wrote in a March 22 email, that DC residents were invited to fly a kite at a public park despite the lack of an official gathering. DPR encouraged Washingtonians to tag @DCDPR on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #DPRKitesandBlossoms.

Diane Mayhew, President and CEO of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, said in a video tweeted by Mayor Muriel Bowser on March 1, that this year’s festival “will unite the city and the region, engaging local businesses and restaurants.” Mayhew said DC residents were invited to join the celebration on “neighborhood porches.” There will also be a “new initiative that will feature the display of 25 blossom art sculptures in all eight wards of the city and surrounding areas,” which will be designed by local artists.

The festival, which features “hybrid” in-person and distanced programming, will run from March 20 through April 11. Check out the “Bloomcam” real-time camera views of the blossoms at www.nationalmall.org/bloomcam to see the status.”

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