March 1, 2012
2012 Cherry Blossom Festival

Rob DeFeo, chief horticulturalist for the National Park Service, announces the peak blooming days in 2012 for Washington's cherry blossoms.

'Early' Bloom for Washington's Cherry Blossoms

WASHINGTON — This year's peak blooming period for the cherry blossom trees in the nation's capital will likely be "early," occurring between March 24-31, and possibly March 22, according to Rob DeFeo, chief horticulturalist at the National Park Service.

Peak bloom means that 70 percent of the trees will be in bloom, DeFeo said. He added that the mild winter would not affect an early bloom.

"It really only matters as to what happens from now on," he said.

The prediction was made during a live press conference March 1 at the Newseum that kicked off the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. The 2012 festival, held March 20-April 27, commemorates the 100-year anniversary of the gift of the cherry blossom trees from Tokyo to Washington, D.C.

As part of the celebration, several museums and institutions around Washington, including Dulles airport, the National Building museum and the convention center, will be colored in pink. The Newseum illuminated the First Amendment tablet on its façade in pink lights.

The Cherry Blossom Festival is expected to attract more than 1 million visitors.

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