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Posted at 11:09 AM ET, 03/ 6/2008

Blooming Wonderful

By Fritz Hahn

Take a deep breath: Spring is coming.(Arianne Starnes/

Mark your calendars: the best time to see Washington's famous cherry blossoms will be between March 27 and April 3, according to Robert DeFeo, the chief horticulturist for the National Park Service. The annual Cherry Blossom Festival runs from March 29 to April 13, so the blossoms could open before the festival even starts this year.

In addition to the festival's highlights -- the kite festival on the Mall, fireworks over the Southwest Waterfront, a parade along Constitution Avenue on the final weekend -- there are some interesting new initiatives this year. In an attempt to alleviate the congestion around the Tidal Basin, the Park Service is partnering with Tourmobile to offer satellite parking at Hains Point. Visitors will be able to park at a number of free lots on the peninsula and take free shuttle buses up to the Jefferson Memorial. (Click for a (PDF) map.) This service will be in operation every day between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.

UPDATE: Other tidbits gleaned from this morning's news conference:

  • The annual bike valet program, where attendants park and watch your bicycle for free while you take in the blossoms, has been expanded to include a second location next to the Jefferson Memorial. Both this valet service and the original location next to the Washington Monument will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • We're getting a hefty dose of glamour this year: Reigning Miss Universe Riyo Mori will attend the opening ceremony, and Reigning Miss America Kirsten Haglund will sing as part of the parade.
  • Tickets for grandstand seating at the parade are $15, and while you can also watch for free, those ticket stubs are good for free admission to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum through the end of July.
  • Japanese pop group Mitsu Mashu is the featured act at the Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, which will also include a performance by Japanese geishas. For the first time, the street party will include a children's area, where young folks can try origami and play Japanese games.
  • The big fireworks show on the Washington Channel is scheduled to be the opening of the patio at Cantina Marina, one of my favorite outdoor bars in the city.

Mayor Fenty makes an appearance in this video clip from the press conference.

Note: Please upgrade your Flash plug-in to view our enhanced content.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | March 6, 2008; 11:09 AM ET
Categories:  Misc.  
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Fritz, did you mean to say that the shuttle bus will be in operation every day between 10 AM and 7 PM? When will this service begin?

Posted by: NAC | March 6, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

According to the PDF of the shuttle map, shuttle will run between 10 AM and 7 PM.

Posted by: Eric | March 6, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

In the area of the Cherry Blossoms:

Please do not smoke.

Please do not walk large dogs.

Please do not wear heavy perfume.

Please do not play loud music.

Posted by: King Culture | March 6, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

No loud music? Cherry blossoms don't like Slayer?

Posted by: Bob | March 6, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

how about soft music? can you play soft music? any requests?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Didn't I read something about a new ballpark opening this year, somewhere?

Posted by: MIB | March 6, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Right you are, Mr. In-Between. The Nationals' first regular season game is March 30 7:30 pm. First full homestand is the week after. All at Nationals Park, S. Capitol on the Anacostia. Right in the middle of the Festival.
Actual cherry blossoms in the new park may not happen until next year, but the trees will be there.

Posted by: CE | March 6, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

King Culture, Those are all activites best done outdoors. Why don't you also give us a list of things we shouldn't think about in the vicinity of the cherry blossoms? Even better, push for new laws prohibiting outdoor: smoking, large dog walking, perfume wearing, or playing music.

Posted by: Hello? | March 6, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

You know, I think KingCulture was trying to get the point across to those clods who have no concept that their actions invade another person's tranquility. For anyone who is interested in preserving the peace and beauty of the tidal basin during cherry blossom season, his suggestions are the short list worth heeding. You can always take your dog/ball/frisbee/radio to the mall. I personally like to smell second hand smoke anywhere I can get it, the thrill of inhaling carcinogens can't be beat.

Posted by: sandanna | March 6, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

You're a funny guy! How about small dogs. Would that be ok? Don't smoke- Don't smoke what? Cigars, Cigarettes, Pot, Pipes, What? What would you characterise as loud music? Heavy perfume? What kind? Really, for someone soo paticular, you really should be more specific. That is, unless you're just trying to be funny, which if that is the case, mission accomplished!

Posted by: King Culture Is Funny | March 6, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

If we're establishing ground rules, how about these: DON'T lift your girlfriend/child/grandma up into the cherry trees for a photo op! DON'T pick the blossoms so you can put them behind your ear for a photo op!

Posted by: WDC | March 6, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

What am I, chopped liver? Did you forget I will have cherry trees too?

Opening Day may be sold out, but the Nats are back in town 4/7 through 4/13. What a great opportunity for visitors to come see me, the new ballpark!

Did I mention I will have CHERRY TREES behind the left field stands?

Posted by: Nationals Park | March 6, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm a smoker, and as one, I realize that you can smoke when there are a lot of people around. Just go to the side of everyone for the five minutes that you're smoking, then go back to enjoying the blossoms!
You shouldn't be close enough that you could ruin someone's picture by making it smoky!

Posted by: Emily | March 6, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

What about the Cherry Blossom 10-mile run!? Everyone should come out to see that. It should be quite the event!

Posted by: Jeff R. | March 6, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Second hand smoke while standing OUTSIDE worries Sandanna, who fails to note that the exhaust fumes from just one vehicle (on the mall's heavily travelled thoroughfares) emits more harmful chemicals than about 1,000 cigarettes in a nanosecond. But for heaven's out for those dastardly, outdoor smokers.

Talk about a skewed sense of self-righteous indignation...

Posted by: Mr.Unimpressed by self-righteousness | March 6, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I heard that nicotine makes people irritable.

Posted by: Chris | March 6, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Not like all the ground rules matter as the thousands of people pour into the tidal basin to stare at the trees.

Posted by: Stampeding Mobs | March 6, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

It's amazing that a little sarcasm comes off as self-righteousness. Mr. Not Impressed ~ I don't walk behind cars with my nose up their tailpipes while I'm trying to enjoy the cherry blossoms. Isn't this fun?

Posted by: Sandanna | March 6, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Yes I saw a blooming idiot doing a dance in front of reporters today. Bush dances while soldiers die, while children go without health care, while gas climbs to an all time high, while people are losing their houses, while he has turned people all over the world against the US, and while the world is in turmoil because of his policies or lack thereof. It should be the people of the USA dancing in celebrating that Bush has less than a year left in office. I hope we have learned a valuable lesson by this person. We can never let this kind of thing happen again.

Posted by: racam_us | March 6, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Hi Nats Stadium!!!! Great to see you posting here! Be sure to keep us up to date on all the hat/tote bag give-aways! We Love you Nats Stadium!!!

Back to Cherry Blossoms--guess I am going to have to leave my 8ft tall giant poodle, Fidro, the electric guitar playing, chain smoking and White Diamond by Liz Taylor wearing pet at home.

Posted by: Brandon | March 6, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm a nihilist, and that's why I read comments on news stories. Why do you do it?

Posted by: Danny | March 6, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Brandon - No! Please bring your poodle and your sense of humor, we need more people like you. Does your dog smoke clove cigarettes? Those are the best.

Posted by: Sandanna | March 6, 2008 6:47 PM | Report abuse

I know different Cherry Blossom!

Posted by: Zanzibar | March 6, 2008 9:00 PM | Report abuse

King Culture is right. Unfortunately, traditional activities at Hanami (花見 lit. "flower viewing") include lounging on blue plastic mats and drinking copious quantities of sake, which the National Park Service frowns upon. On the plus side maybe the nice NPS Policeman will give you a ride to jail on his horse -- you never know until you ask.

Posted by: Mike Licht | March 7, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

We happen to have a trip scheduled for 4/19. Will all of the blossoms be gone by then or is there as chance of some 'late bloomers' still being there?

Posted by: Russ | March 7, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Odds are against you Russ but I'll try and arrange for colder weather to make them last.

Posted by: CE | March 8, 2008 11:05 PM | Report abuse

But if you're still here the next week, the Mets and the Cubs are in town.

Posted by: CE | March 8, 2008 11:06 PM | Report abuse

I know that most of you complainers about the rules are just joking and trying to be funny but what about just being decent? What has happened to common decency?

Posted by: jay ess | March 10, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

We plan on being there March 23, 24 and 25. Will we get to see any cherry blossoms?

Posted by: JAE | March 19, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Are there any cruise-tour-boats that go along where the Cherry Blossoms are? (something in the $20-$25 [max] range)

Posted by: Shea | March 20, 2008 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Didn't Wash Post have a livecam so we could see how developed the buds were?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 24, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

We didn't have a live camera -- it would be hard to maintain -- but in 2006, one of our photographers went out and shot a picture of the same branch of a blossom tree every day. You can see the timelapse photos here:

Posted by: Fritz | March 24, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

What about the rain? It is supposed to rain 27, 28, 29 March. How will it effect the blossoms? Will they still be nice on the 29th?

Posted by: suz | March 26, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

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