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No cherry blossoms yet at blossom festival

Sunday - 3/23/2014, 8:30pm  ET

blossoms_640 (Kathy Stewart/WTOP)
Visitors came to Tidal Basin Saturday and there were no blossoms to greet them, at least not yet. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

Audio: visitors disappointed by lack of bloom

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WASHINGTON-- The grip of harsh winter on the region doesn't want to let go and Washington's cherry blossoms, known for their brilliant pink signature on the early spring landscape, are still hibernating.

"We came to see if the cherry blossoms would be out, we came to get a sneak peek," said Christina Baez, a freshman at George Mason University who came to the Tidal Basin with a friend Saturday looking for signs of spring.

"It's nice; you can see the little buds," she added. "We're hopefully going to come back when they're out, though."

That didn't stop the opening of one of the capital's biggest annual celebrations, the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which began on Thursday and goes through April 13. This year marks the 102nd anniversary of the gift of thousands of cherry trees from Japan as a symbol of friendship with the United States. Peak bloom isn't expected until April 8 through April 12.

Meanwhile on Saturday night, dignitaries from the nation's capital and from Japan gathered to enjoy multicultural performances featuring singers and dancers at the opening ceremony at the Warner Theater. The Japanese ambassador to the U.S. marveled at the beauty of the pink and white blossoms, but joked about the traffic snarls that also ensue.

Not to be outdone, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray noted that while it might be spring on the calendar, the region is expecting another snowstorm on Tuesday.

"If we were flowers we'd probably be staying in too," Baez joked.

The festival activities are expected to continue Sunday with Family Days at the National Building Museum, and don't miss "City in Bloom," in which blossoms will be projected in light on the city's iconic buildings at night.

See all of the festival's scheduled events here.

WTOP's Kathy Stewart contributed to this report

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