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DC Cherry Blossom Festival's Chamber Roots

Tania Kohut on Friday, March 23, 2012 at 12:00:00 am

As we watch our nation's capital transform itself into a breathtaking sight with the blooming of its famous cherry blossoms, ACCE's Chris Mead thinks you'll find this article title interesting.  It’s from the Washington Post, dated April 13, 1929:

“Annual Cherry Bloom Fete Planned by Chamber Group”

The lead organizer for the Washington Chamber of Commerce on this project, Isaac Gans, said such a festival would be “the best way I know of to boost Washington.”  He predicted 250,000 visitors.

Almost certainly, this festival was inspired by the Apple Blossom Festival, begun by the Winchester (VA) Chamber of Commerce in 1924.  By 1929, that Winchester festival attracted 100,000 people each year, including 10,000 people who marched in its parade.  This festival was written up from time to time in the Washington Post and in 1929 30 northern Virginia schools sent groups to march in that parade.  That Apple Blossom Festival continues to this day.

Perhaps the stock market crash of 1929 caused the delay in starting the Cherry Blossom Festival.  In any case, in 1934, the Washington Chamber of Commerce merged with the Washington Board of Trade, and that same year the group(s) put on the first Cherry Blossom Festival.  It attracted 500,000 people – twice Isaac Gans’s estimate – in the first year.

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