Cold snap damages cherry blossoms but doesn’t deter tourists

Emily Watson, from Boston, looks at the status of the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin, Saturday, March 18, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
No bloom? No problem for some cherry blossom fans.

Liz Anderson

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WASHINGTON — The cold snap damaged a significant number of D.C.’s cherry blossoms and pushed back peak bloom by a week, but nature’s color show will still go on.

“Yes, there’s going to be blossoms — two waves of blossoms. A lot of people who are coming here will really enjoy it,” said Diana Mayhew, president of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Peak bloom for the Yoshino cherry trees is expected the weekend of March 24. The second wave of blossoms will be from the Kwanzan cherry trees about two weeks later.

This year is the 90th anniversary of the first National Cherry Blossom Festival, and tourism hasn’t suffered despite the cold snap and damage to the blooms, Mayhew said.

“We have all indications that tourism has not been hurt from this at all. Our hotel numbers are the same. Nothing has changed,” she said. “All indications is that it’s going to be fabulous.”

The festival opened Saturday and runs for four weeks. It is a rite of spring in DC — cherry blossoms and tourists.

“Since we were here, we wanted to come and check in and see how the cherry blossoms were doing,” said Scott Lamond from Gainesville, Florida. “It’s a little sad today.”

Though the blossoms were not at their peak this weekend, Mara Veleila from Brazil was impressed with the monuments and other sites throughout D.C. She remained hopeful for a better view of the cherry blossoms next weekend.

“There have been inquiries from all over the world of people concerned about this blossom and spring in Washington,” Mayhew said.

Interest in the festival may be up this year, Mayhew said, based on demand for grand stand seats for the parade and traffic on the festival’s website. The site’s traffic is up 20 percent compared with the same time last year, she said.

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