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Warm weather draws thousands to see cherry blossoms

Throughout its four-week run, the cherry blossom festival hosts a variety of family-friendly events — from concerts to parades and more. (WTOP/Dennis Foley)

WASHINGTON — Despite a late snowstorm that damaged half of the cherry blossoms, thousands of people are taking advantage of the nice weather to check out the annual spectacle.

Many are flocking outside and snap pictures — which range from the social media-friendly selfie to a full professional photo shoot.

“My daughter is getting her engagement photos,” Paul Reinhardt said. “Beautiful weather and the cherry blossoms look wonderful.”

The setting was perfect, with couples using it for engagement photos, students and parents using the scenery for graduation photos, and families getting the kids up early for some family photos.

Others used it as an opportunity to reminisce.

“I’m moving out of D.C. after 15 years, and I had to see the cherry blossoms one last time,” Hannah Marsh said.

She called the cherry blossoms one of the most beautiful sights.

“Absolutely love the cherry blossoms,” Marsh said. “They’re gorgeous. You can’t get better than big clouds of pink, honestly.”

But there were concerns about the quality of the bloom.

The warm February had the cherry blossoms blooming a bit earlier than usual, but a March snowstorm and cold snap damaged about half of them.

“I walked by last week and I wasn’t entirely sure. But I saw blossoms that were ready to come out, so hope springs eternal,” Marsh said.

“We weren’t sure what to expect,” Reinhardt said. “They were saying it was going to be a nice day and it turned out maybe a little bit cloudy, but really nice warm and the cherry blossoms look great.”

The good forecast made it easier for Richard Meader and Angela Pitsakis to pin down when they wanted to have their cherry blossom picnic.

“We actually planned to come today,” Meader said. “We were trying to figure out should we go Sunday or should we go today. There was a really slight chance of rain tomorrow we thought Saturday was probably the best.”

So they plotted their spot on some grass near the Tidal Basin.

“We’ve got a brown paper bag here that I’ve ripped open and it’s like a little place mat,” Meader described, “and on it we put all of our scones, our coffee, our bagels, our soufflés and we’ve got out little blanket set up here with some magazines and napkins. We’ve got a lovely view of the Tidal Basin.”

Meader has seen the cherry blossoms almost every year, but this is only the second time his girlfriend checked them out.

“I do really appreciate flowers in general. I did want to see everything out here in full bloom and I heard this is the best weekend to do it,” Pitsakis said.

Meader was concerned about what the back-and-forth late winter weather would have meant for the bloom.

“When the snowstorm hit recently, then I was a little concerned. I didn’t think there would be a bloom at all.”

He was pleasantly surprised to see the bloom Saturday and all of the people who went down to the Tidal Basin.

For Marsh, it’s a no-brainer.

“You have to come. It’s beautiful. Where else can you come find big clouds of pink flowers and be showered in petals?”


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