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Posted at 10:48 AM ET, 04/ 8/2008

It's Gonna Be a Lovely Day

By Fritz Hahn

With springlike temperatures and a lineup of great free activities, Saturday is not a day to stay home. Whether you have kids, family members in town or just want to put off spring cleaning, April 12 offers ample opportunity to get out and enjoy the city.

Let's start with the big one: It seems like the Cherry Blossom Festival has dragged on for weeks, but it goes out with a bang this weekend. Stake out a spot along Constitution Avenue between 7th and 17th Street to watch the Cherry Blossom Parade. Bleacher seats cost $15, but there is no charge for those who just want to scope out the parade from the curb. Be sure to arrive early; Even though the parade isn't until 10 a.m., spectators begin arriving around 9 a.m.

The parade boasts the usual barrage of floats, antique cars, clowns, high-school marching bands and sort-of celebs (folks like Miss America 2008 and the Disney Channel's Keke Palmer), but the real highlight is usually the Taiko drumming and dancing groups.

After the parade, skip over to Pennsylvania Avenue for the Sakura Matsuri Street Festival. Anime, J-pop, karaoke and Kirin beer are among the many aspects of Japanese contemporary culture reprsented here. Admission to the street fest is free -- as are the many performances -- but food'll cost you. The Japanese-America Society of Washington DC, which is organizing the fest, say food prices will be in the $1-$6 range.

Elsewhere in the city, enjoy a stroll through the (manufactured) jungle with a trip to the Zoo. Friends of the National Zoo (or FONZ, as the fund- and awareness-raising group is known) celebrates its 50th anniversary with kid-friendly carnival games and cupcakes for the first 1,000 visitors to the Zoo between 10 a.m. and noon. The heart of the action is the Zoo's Picnic Pavillion, but keeper talks and animal demonstrations will be held throughout the park until 3 p.m.

Free, family-friendly events are also on tap at other Smithsonian institutions. At the Postal Museum, families honor Jazz Appreciation Month by listening to music, reading lyrics and creating collage projects featuring the many famous faces of the genre.

Expect an experience fit for a 10-year-old boy at the Udvar-Hazy Center. In honor of the 400th anniversary of the telescope, the Air and Space Museum's annex offers telescope-themed talks and art activities throughout the day. Space Shuttle Flight Deck Demonstrations, in which children experience a simulation of a shuttle takeoff and landing, take place at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Younger museum-goers -- between the ages of 4 and 7 -- might enjoy the storytime sessions held in the Claude Moore Lab Classroom every hour on the half hour between 10:30 a.m.and 2:30 p.m. The event is free, but parking is $12.

--Julia

By Fritz Hahn  | April 8, 2008; 10:48 AM ET
Categories:  Misc.  
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and also, don't miss

the 17th Annual "Blessing of the Fleets"
at the United States Navy Memorial

The 17th annual Blessing of the Fleets celebration, when Navy Memorial Plaza fountains are officially charged up for the season, follows the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. Sailors from the U.S. Navy's Ceremonial Guard will proceed across the Plaza's "Granite Sea" to pour water from the Seven Seas and the Great Lakes into the surrounding fountains, bringing them to life and ushering in the spring season.

The Blessing of the Fleets coincides with the opening of Navy Medicine: Saving Life on Land and Sea, a new exhibit to launch The Year of Navy Medicine, the Memorial's salute to the Navy's medical community and the centennial of the Navy's Nurse Corps. A Humvee ambulance, a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat, & medical supplies used on the hospital ship USNS Comfort will be displayed.

There will be VIP speakers, including Vice Adm. Adam M. Robinson, Jr., MC, USN, Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy and Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.
Navy Chefs from the White House Mess will serve Navy Bean Soup in the Naval Heritage Center.

Several musical groups will perform live on the Plaza.

Saturday, April 12
11:00 a.m. - Country Current performance
12:00 p.m. - Harmony Heritage Singers performance
12:45 noon - United States Navy Band performance
1:00 p.m. - Official Blessing of the Fleets Ceremony
2:30 p.m. - Chartiers Valley Show Band performance
3:00 p.m. - Acadiana High School Band performance

The United States Navy Memorial
701 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20004

Free and open to the public.

202) 737-2300 or www.navymemorial.org.

Posted by: TKiland, USNM | April 8, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

You guys may have jinxed it... weather.gov is now showing 60% chance of rain and possible thunderstorms for Saturday.

Posted by: Ashley | April 8, 2008 9:46 PM | Report abuse

As the mom of an 8-yr-old girl fascinated with all things scientific, I would have preferred a more gender-neutral recommendation for the telescope's anniversary....

Posted by: Cyndi | April 11, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Cyndi-

You have got to be kidding...

Posted by: Adams-Morgan | April 11, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

The Library of Congress Experience

A day of public celebration on Saturday, April 12, at the Thomas Jefferson Building (10 First St. SE, Washington, D.C., 20540) marks the opening of the Library of Congress Experience.

Festivities kick off at 11 a.m., with the formal opening of the bronze doors and exhibits to the public at noon (coinciding with the conclusion of the Parade of the National Cherry Blossom Festival) until 5 p.m.

There will be music and entertainment, activities for young people, presentations featuring Library programs such as the Veterans History Project, and the designation of several new Living Legends from many walks of life.

Posted by: dcinvests | April 11, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the article on what to do this Saturday. Hopefully they'll be wrong about the weather...

That said, I totally agree with Cyndi. As a young girl I was fascinated with the exploration of the stars and being the first woman to land on Mars. I even had my own telescope. So I'd prefer language that respects all children's interests in space. To read that sentence was very disheartening.

Thank you.

Posted by: LS | April 11, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget the Nats! It might be a beautiful day for a game.

Posted by: Beisbol | April 11, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Cyndie and LS - Wow. Please, let people say a 10-year-old boy will enjoy the telescope program without making it into a gender issue. Kids who will enjoy it will do so no matter how it is phrased.

Posted by: a lady | April 11, 2008 7:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm throwing my support behind Cyndi and LS. While I'm sure the reporter meant no harm (or controversy), it's a simple reminder that cliches are for lazy people.

Posted by: Hillary | April 12, 2008 7:49 AM | Report abuse

to a lady:

sure they will, but WHY NOT be correct (*especially* as a 'journalist/writer/reporter' by thinking more INCLUSIVELY?!?

Good grief: JUST THINK before writing or speaking and the DEFENSE won't be needed later!

Posted by: she's_cleva | April 12, 2008 7:57 AM | Report abuse


Post a Comment: "We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia feature."

HELLO?

Posted by: she's_cleva | April 12, 2008 8:04 AM | Report abuse

I find disturbing that people can be so insulted by a simple sentence relating some innocuous family activity. Must we polarize everything?

HELLO she's_cleva, if you need so badly to challenge something or somebody, please make it worthwhile. There are much more disturbing facets of our world than people assuming that boys like telescopes more than girls do. Take your own advice and think.

Posted by: maybe not | April 12, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Not - *I* find it disturbing that a reader can't make the slightest correction to an article without people going into a defensive rant. This wasn't a CHALLENGE - it was a COMMENT suggesting CORRECTION. That's what started this. Somebody made an observation of an oversight - and commented it. I never read an implication of insult - until some wise@#$ wrote - 'you've got to be kidding.' Or until others chimed in against the CORRECTION. You and these others are the ones insulted. Because in our society today - people can't be corrected OR challenged... cuz that would be 'polarizing'. So you're right - let's all just live with ignorance. Makes things easier. or MAYBE NOT.

Posted by: she's_cleva | April 13, 2008 6:42 PM | Report abuse

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