By Laurie Baratti
With Washington, D.C.’s annual National Cherry Blossom Festival canceled this year amid escalating COVID-19 “shelter in place” orders around the country, it would be a shame to miss out on the glorious sight of the National Mall bursting into delicate, pastel pink efflorescence just because it’s your civic duty to remain at home.
This is why the nonprofit National Cherry Blossom Festival organization is instead promoting its new virtual festival experience, accessible from the festival’s website.
Its BloomCam provides live, rotating views over the National Mall Tidal Basin so that everyone has the opportunity to witness the treasured trees in full flush during this peak season.
Festival President and CEO Diana Mayhew said: “This new online experience brings the festival to you and provides a way to enjoy springtime together while being apart. The festival team is rooted in our commitment to honor our traditions. So, the nation’s greatest springtime celebration will continue, but it will look different this year.”
The virtual festival also includes vibrant, colorful videos showcasing those performers who were originally scheduled as part of the 2020 celebrations, including the opening ceremony that’s co-presented with the Japan Foundation annually.
Inspiring musical performances highlight some of the finest aspects of Japanese culture, presented as part of the festival’s longstanding friendship with Japan, which originally gifted the Yoshino cherry trees to the U.S. capital.
Its Blossom Kids page offers coloring-page artwork from 2020 festival artist Matt Long, and other download-and-printable puzzles, games, and arts and crafts, as well as details on how to enter the Cherry Blossom Festival Student Art Contest.
The annual festival auction, traditionally launched during the annual Pink Tie Party, is also being held online this year, running now through April 12, 2020, and regularly updated with new bidding opportunities.
Participants can bid on such items as signed memorabilia, apparel, jewelry and gifts cards; as well as experiences, including travel, spa services and sporting events. All proceeds go toward supporting the festival and its mission to promote arts and culture, natural beauty and community spirit.
Fresh programming, activities and educational presentations will also be added in the days leading up to April 12 (the original end date for the festival), including a nod to the Blossom Kite Festival, originally scheduled for March 28, and a special April 4 presentation of compilation footage from past years’ National Cherry Blossom Festival Parades, so viewers can relive their colorful spectacles and performances, and join in the spirit of springtime.