As my friends and I made the leisurely jaunt to the Tidal Basin this past Saturday, I must admit that my expectations were at an all-time high. After seeing the plethora of pictures people had posted Easter weekend, my Instagram and Snapchat were feeling rather out-of-date with the new spring aesthetic. However, as the once-distant Washington Monument loomed nearer and nearer,the trees lining the sidewalk remained a light green. I began to worry. “Are we there yet?” I kept asking my friends. To my horror, the only sight was thousands of tourists making the loop around the Tidal Basin, sneakers tromping on the fallen, now mushed and brown, cherry blossoms.
Although the blossoms were dead, the Cherry Blossom Festival was still in full throttle. The festival celebrates the cherry trees gifted to Washington, D.C. in 1912 by Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo.They continue to act as a symbol of goodwill between the United States and Japan today. Around 1.5 million people from all over the world make the journey each year to take part in the festival which includes fireworks, parades, and a record-high number of food trucks. The scheduled dates for the National Cherry Blossom Festival this year are March 20 through April 17. Although tourists arriving after this weekend will get a glimpse of the fragile, fickle beauties, they can still purchase garish pink sweatshirts and T-shirts with cartoon blossoms plastered all over them. For those really desperate for a glimpse of the flowers, I heard a rickshaw driver suggest biking people to Virginia to see them.
The dazzling spectacle that compensated for the lack of the pale flora was the Blossom Kite Festival. Thousands of kite flyers gathered around the Washington Monument to participate in a series of competitions and demonstrations. The kite containing every countries’ flag seemed to stretch across the mall Although my friend narrowly avoided decapitation by a child’s kite, seeing thousands of kites floating in the clear blue sky around the stoic monument was ethereal and more than compensated for my disappointment regarding the blossoms. So, even if the cherry blossoms themselves are just a fading memory, the ever-fleeting chance to see them offers an excuse to step away from the books and enjoy the fact that the wonders of D.C. are more tangible than my chemistry homework will ever be.