NPS promotes Cherry Blossoms reaching Stage 5 — puffy white — but cautions crowding

The cherry trees along the Tidal Basin have reached Stage 5 of their bloom cycle, and crowds of people flocked to see them on March 27, 2021.

The cherry trees along the Tidal Basin have reached Stage 5 of their bloom cycle, and crowds of people flocked to see them on March 27, 2021.

Cherry blossoms around the National Mall have reached Stage 5, according to the National Park Service. (Courtesy NPS)
Cherry blossoms around the National Mall have reached Stage 5, according to the National Park Service. (Courtesy NPS)

The cherry trees along the Tidal Basin have reached Stage 5 of their bloom cycle, and crowds of people flocked to see them on March 27, 2021.

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Cherry blossoms around the National Mall have reached Stage 5, according to the National Park Service. (Courtesy NPS)

While continuing to keep an eye on crowds, the National Park Service also was happy to promote that the cherry blossoms reached Stage 5 — puffy white — overnight Friday into Saturday.

In a tweet written in the style of a Haiku poem, the park service said “this is stage five — puffy white. A springtime delight!”

“It’s gorgeous,” Carrie Roskamp, of New Jersey, said. “There’s still some buds so maybe we’re a week away from bloom, but it’s breathtaking really.”

The park service is encouraging people to be mindful of their distance from each other during the coronavirus pandemic.

“They are very pretty,” Rachel Shi, of Philadelphia, said. “It reminds me of the cherry blossoms in Japan and Korea. It’s nice to see people around after being quarantined for so long. So far people are very good about wearing masks and distancing themselves.”

Nick Goranites of New Jersey, who was also in town to see the cherry blossoms, called social distancing a civic duty.

“I’m fortunate enough that I’m vaccinated myself, so it’s made things a little more comfortable to do in public,” he said. “I’m still careful nevertheless. It’s just a civic responsibility to be kind to the people around you because not everyone’s vaccinated yet.”

Those who are not quite ready for the possibility of rubbing shoulders with strangers can always catch the views via the park service’s BloomCam.

The trees are the centerpiece of the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival, which is ongoing, but virtual in 2021 due to the pandemic. The festival’s opening ceremony was March 20, and it concludes on April 11.

While the pandemic anxiety is not quite what it was at this time a year ago when the National Park Service restricted access to the Tidal Basin, authorities are concerned about crowding.

NPS spokesman Mike Litterst said once crowds get to the point that social distancing is not possible on the small walking paths around the basin, “we will close access points to all vehicles and pedestrians … until after peak bloom has passed, and the likelihood of large crowds has dissipated.”

Litterst said the stance was a difficult one for his department to take as coronavirus numbers “are trending in the right direction.”

While the park service’s stance seems strict, Litterst did, however, leave some room for flexibility. He said the NPS would like to keep the paths open for as long as possible.

“The scenario exists where if everyone follows the suggestions and pays attention and stays away we won’t have to close it,” he added.

There are thousands more trees around the D.C. area that are worth seeing for those who don’t want to make the trek into the District. National Cherry Blossom Festival President Diana Mayhew said there are virtual experiences similar to in 2020, but plenty of in-person activities with social distancing in mind.

“There are things to come out and actually do and have the spirit of spring because you need to be outside in the spring time,” Mayhew said. “We’ve all been inside long enough.”

WTOP’s Glynis Kazanijan and Mike Murillo contributed to this report.

Dan Friedell

Dan Friedell is a digital writer for WTOP. He came to the D.C. area in 2007 to work as digital editor for USATODAY.com, and since then has worked for a number of local and national news organizations.

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