This past weekend on Saturday, April 14th, the National Cherry Blossom Parade took place! An annual event held in our nations capital had a great turn out. It was a beautiful spring day reaching about 84°F, which was a great change from all the cold weather we have had. I am just hoping spring is here to stay.
This was my first time attending the parade. I have been in Washington D.C. during previous Cherry Blossom festivities but never stuck around to enjoy the grand finale. The parade is a 2 hour show beginning at 10 AM until 12 PM.
History of the National Cherry Blossom Festival
If you’re not familiar with the festival and why the cherry blossoms are such a big deal around Washington D.C., allow me to provide a brief explanation.
The cherry blossoms that you see every year in Washington D.C. were a gift from the Mayor of Tokyo, Japan, Yukio Ozaki, in 1912. The city of Washington D.C. received 3,000 cherry trees. (source: National Cherry Blossom Festival) To commemorate this generous gift, every year D.C. holds an almost month-long celebration!
If you have never had the opportunity to experience this, and you enjoy the beauty of nature, I HIGHLY recommend a spring time visit. It’s truly a beautiful sight to see. Even with the weather being unusually cold into the season this year, there was still an amazing bloom.
Heading to D.C.
I’m new to this area and about 2 hours from D.C. Since I’m familiar with Washington D.C., I decided driving on a day like this would not be the best option. Although, on a normal day I probably wouldn’t drive into the city considering the consistent traffic everyday of the week. That’s just me though.
I left home for the parade at about 6 AM, using a local tour bus company. I had the pleasure of being accompanied by two of my coworkers as well. For only $42, I had a comfortable ride from my area into the city and even stopped for breakfast.
We did hit traffic once we got about 10 miles from the city. Once in the city limits, the bus had to make some detours since the parade had many streets blocked off. We were dropped off along Madison Ave. around 9:30 AM, giving us a good 30 minutes to find a spot along the parade route (Constitution Ave.)
Any time I head to the city, I’m always prepared to walk to my destination. Comfortable walking shoes are a must! Luckily, most of the festivities took place around the National Mall so our walking was relatively centered to that location.
Securing the Perfect Parade Location
The crowd was already large when we got there and growing as the loud-speaker counted down the minutes to 10 AM. There are seats along the parade route that are available for purchase ahead of time. I do remember seeing prices for $20 online. Not bad if you’re alone but with a family, that can be a bit much. I feel like the true essence of a parade is being among the crowd, and waiting for the tall guy in front of you to move to the left just slightly so that you are able to catch a glimpse of a comical character.
However, I know the money received by seat sales is used for the community, various programs, and the ability to have these events. So, please donate if you are able.
We landed the perfect spot on Constitution Ave. and 7th Street. This was right at the start of the parade. We had curbside view and most everyone around was in a celebratory mood.
Pictures from the Parade
The parade started promptly at 10 AM. After an introduction from the announcer, the parade was lead by our military men and women. They were followed by an array of high school marching bands, local businesses and organizations, beauty queens, and a variety of other acts.
Check out a few photos I was able to snap while there!
The entire show was diverse and inclusive and I enjoyed the parade from beginning to end. Occasionally there were times where it did appear that the parade was not progressing fast enough as there were long pauses in between acts.
The ages in attendance ranged from newborn to grown and gray. A combination of happy families and gorgeous sunny weather made the experience worth it!
If you were unable to make it this year, then next year around April the parade will come again. This is a great annual outing for the family and with friends.
When to Book a Spring Trip to Washington D.C.
If you would like to go next year and you are not local to the Washington D.C. area, I would recommend making it a weekend trip. Try to get as close to the city as possible or stay in the city so that you are walking distance or able to take the Metro. Since the parade shuts down many street routes, I wouldn’t advise driving the day of in an attempt to find parking.
The Cherry Blossom Festival holds many events leading up to the parade and after, so you won’t be bored. Plan ahead and book in advanced!