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A Toast To Spring, With A Cherry Blossom On Top!

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The party started early this year. It's the centennial celebration of the cherry blossoms, and everyone's invited.

Many of the cherry trees now bursting with pink around the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., have been there for a century. Talk about some inspiring longevity! What started as a simple gift of 3,000 trees from the city of Tokyo has blossomed into a five-week extravaganza that's become something of a national celebration of spring.

So we decided to wander through the crowds to get a better look at these blossoming glories — and the million or so folks who flock to the nation's capital every year to see them.

The party begins promptly at your convenience and is BYOP (bring your own picnic). Cameras are mandatory, petals will be dancing, and dogs are more than welcome. But not to worry, even among the hordes of guests, it's not too difficult to find a quiet moment with the hosts.

During the next couple weeks the invitation stands — welcoming laughter, joggers, grandmothers and suits alike. As a token of appreciation for your visit, the trees will leave you with many gifts to take home — including flowers in your hair.

To see more of the cherry blossoms, check out the official site of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

And don't be afraid to take the advice of an old-school cherry blossom fan — the 19th century haiku master Kobayashi Issa:

"In the shadow of the cherry blossom

complete strangers

there are none."

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