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Cherry Blossom Festival History

Cherry BlossomsThe National Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual commemoration of the gift in 1912 of 3,000 cherry trees by Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to Washington as a memorial of national friendship between the United States and Japan and a celebration of the continued close relationship between the people of the two countries.

1885 Mrs. Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore, upon returning to Washington from her first visit to Japan, approached the Superintendent of Public Building and Grounds with the proposal that cherry trees be planted along the soon to reclaimed Potomac waterfront. Her request fell on deaf ears. Over the next 24 years Mrs. Scidmore approached every new Superintendent with her proposal with no success.

1907 The Fairchilds, pleased with the success of the trees, began to promote Japanese flowering cherry trees as the ideal type of tree to plant along avenues in the Washington area. Friends of the Fairchilds also became interested and on September 26, arrangements were completed with the Chevy Chase Land Company to order 300 Oriental cherry trees for the Chevy Chase area.

1908 Dr. David Fairchild gave cherry saplings to boys from each District of Columbia school to plant in their schoolyard for the observance of Arbor Day. In closing his Arbor Day lecture, Dr. Fairchild for the first time expressed an appeal that the "Speedway" (the present day corridor of Independence Avenue, SW, in West Potomac Park) be transformed into a "Field of Cherries". In attendance was Eliza Scidmore, whom afterwards he referred to as a great authority on Japan. NEXT PAGE >>>

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