Cherry Blossom Day in Full Bloom at Oregon Capitol

The more than 150 Akebono flowering cherry trees lining Capitol Mall in Salem took center stage on Saturday’s Cherry Blossom Day at the Oregon State Capitol.

The blossoming trees, which held onto their flowers through March rains, also provided the picture-perfect backdrop for selfies and family portraits. The sun shone and a breeze whipped the cherry blossoms into pink-and-white swirls.

Stacy Nalley, public outreach coordinator for the state Capitol building, estimated thousands of people would attend the day’s festivities celebrating the Capitol’s beloved trees, Japanese culture and Oregon’s cherry industry.

It was the Capitol’s second year hosting Cherry Blossom Day, but cherry-related festivals have a lengthy, storied past in Salem. The city held its first Cherry Festival in 1903. The three-day festival crowned a cherry king and queen, hosted activities and showcased the eponymous stone fruit along Court Street.

The Capitol revived the festival in 2015. Winter rains had left the trees blossom-less on the day of the celebration, but about 2,000 people still came out for the free festival, Nalley said.

This year, families with young children, older couples, groups of teens and young adults filled the Capitol grounds. Oregon Cherry Growers handed out free samples of maraschino cherries and dried fruit.

“It’s been great to show people what grows in their own neighborhood,” said Joan Bennett, the safety and training manager for Oregon Cherry Growers.

Because cherries have such a close and long relationship with the community, Cherry Blossom Day seemed like a perfect showcase for the company, Bennett said.

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Source: Statesman Journal, 2016

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