National Cherry Blossom Festival unveils 2023 grand marshals, official artwork

While unveiling plans for the 2023 National Cherry Blossom Festival at The University Club of Washington D.C. on Tuesday night, festival organizers revealed a surprise for its grand marshals while adding realism from its official artwork.

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse from the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando will head to D.C. on April 15, 2023, to grand marshal the festival’s parade.

Angie M. Gates, president and CEO of Events DC, said in a statement that the famed characters will bring the magic of Disney to the nation’s capital.

“Spring’s arrival is only 16 weeks away, and we plan to present a host of traditional favorites and new experiences that will unite communities and bring friends and families together to make wonderful memories,” said Diana Mayhew, president and CEO of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Organizers also displayed the festival’s official artwork by Cuban artist Orlando Quevedo with Park West Gallery, the world’s largest art dealer.

According to a news release, the piece shows the “captivating beauty of the cherry blossoms on canvas” using Quevedo’s signature style, ironically called “magical realism.”

“I was honored to be able to create this piece for the National Cherry Blossom Festival,” Quevedo said. “As the 2023 Festival Official Artist, I am proud to be a part of this long-standing tradition through my artwork.”

Quevedo and the painting were on hand at the preview gala, which was hosted by television personality and actor Carson Kressley. The artwork will be on display through Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the Japan Information and Culture Center, which is part of the Public Affairs Section of the Embassy of Japan in the District.

Commemorative T-shirts and the official festival poster featuring Quevedo’s artwork are available to purchase now on the festival’s online shop. Two special limited giclée prints are up for auction with all the proceeds going toward the yearlong care of the cherry blossom trees around the Tidal Basin. Bidding for the prints will end on Dec. 14.

The preview comes after the D.C. region celebrated its first parade this past spring following a three-year hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Those interested in attending next year’s parade can  purchase tickets online to sit in the grandstands. To sit on the telecast area at the National Archives between 7th and 9th streets, tickets are $40 each, while sitting on the West End between 15th and 17th streets will cost between $25 and $30.

According to the news release, portions of the parade route — located on Constitution Avenue between 9th and 15th streets — are free to the public on a first come, first served basis.

José Umaña

José Umaña is a digital editor for WTOP. He’s been working as a journalist for almost a decade, covering local news, education and sports. His work has appeared in The Prince George’s Sentinel, The Montgomery Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, PressBox and The Diamondback.

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