02 April, 2019
Washington, D.C.'s, cherry blossom trees are in full bloom.
The United States National Park Service declared that the blossoms reached peak bloom on Monday. That means 70 percent of the Yoshino Cherry trees around the city's Tidal Basin are flowering. Depending on weather conditions, peak bloom can last between just a few days or seven to 10 days.
After what seemed like a long winter, mild weather returned to the DC area last weekend. On Saturday, the official daytime temperature reached 79 degrees Fahrenheit or 26 degrees Celsius. Many Washingtonians spent the day outdoors. They and thousands of out-of-town visitors walked among the cherry trees.
For a time, Washington did not feel like a busy capital city. The famous lack of political harmony was nowhere to be found. People smiled, laughed and pointed up at the tiny blossoms. Many lifted cell phones high in the air and took pictures. Families spread blankets on the grass and enjoyed picnics. Under a sunny sky, boaters drifted along the Potomac River. One could hear people speaking in different languages, including Japanese, Chinese, German and Spanish.
Sitting near the water, Leanna Gonzalez of Washington wore a dazzling cherry blossom colored gown. Her mother, Maria, paid a photographer to take pictures of the 15-year-old to mark her quinceañera, a coming of age ceremony for Hispanic girls.
"She looks like a princess," her mother said, smiling.
Jack Elmira and his twin 10-year-old sons, Toby and Joe, walked among the trees, looking up into the blossoms. They had planned to visit Washington for more than a year and were pleased that they had timed their trip correctly.
"I was here once before," Jack Elmira said, "but the trees still had frost on them. That was years ago. I'm just happy my sons get to see them at their best."
DC's first cherry trees were a gift from Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki back in 1912. Today, the cherry blossom festival takes place every year. It celebrates the close cultural ties between the United States and Japan. The Park Service said it expects more than 1.5 million people to walk among the more than 3,000 white and pink trees over the next few days.
Some people also walked across the National Mall to the World War II Memorial. It was built in 2004 to honor the 16 million Americans who fought in the war. Its fountains throw off cool drops of water with the Washington Monument in the background.
Visitors can place their feet in the water or take pictures at its edge. Lucy Manor of Arlington, Virginia, carefully walked along the edge.
"These are the days when Washington feels like a dream city," she said.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival continues until Saturday, April 13, and ends with the festival's parade. The parade march stretches along Constitution Avenue and is open to the public.
I'm Susan Shand.
Susan Shand reported this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Write to us in the Comments Section or on 51VOA.COM.
Words in this Story
bloom – v. to change, grow, or develop fully
harmony – n. to get along peacefully
blanket – n. a covering made of cloth that is used especially on a bed to keep you warm
picnic – n. a meal that is eaten outdoors especially during a trip away from home
drift – v. to move slowly on water
dazzling – adj. to greatly impress or surprise (someone) by being very attractive or exciting
princess – n. the daughter of a king or queen
twin – n. one of two children produced in the same pregnancy
frost – n. a thin layer of ice caused by cold weather