Cherry Blossom Festival Under Way In D.C. Host Liane Hansen describes the sights and sounds of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which started this weekend in the Nation's Capital. The event is tinged with sadness this year. Cherry blossoms symbolize rebirth and renewal and this year, rebuilding for Japan.
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Cherry Blossom Festival Under Way In D.C.

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Cherry Blossom Festival Under Way In D.C.

Cherry Blossom Festival Under Way In D.C.

Cherry Blossom Festival Under Way In D.C.

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Host Liane Hansen describes the sights and sounds of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which started this weekend in the Nation's Capital. The event is tinged with sadness this year. Cherry blossoms symbolize rebirth and renewal and this year, rebuilding for Japan.

LIANE HANSEN, Host:

Diana Mayhew is the festival's president.

M: We look forward to spring, we look forward to these blossoms and what they symbolize and it's the nation's greatest springtime celebration.

HANSEN: And it lasts for 16 days. Features include lectures, tours, art exhibitions and performances. This is the all-woman percussion group Batala.

(SOUNDBITE OF DRUMMING)

HANSEN: But there is a somber side to this year's festivities because of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The National Cherry Blossom Festival has partnered with the American Red Cross to raise money for a disaster relief fund. Again, Diana Mayhew.

M: Because the relationship with Japan is the heart of the festival, we celebrate Japanese culture, we want to communicate with people how to connect and how to contribute to support the fund. The cherry blossoms here symbolize rebirth and renewal, and this year especially rebuilding for Japan.

HANSEN: The festival runs through April 10th and is expected to draw as many as one million visitors.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HANSEN: For pictures of this year's blossoms and to read NPR librarian Kee Malesky's account of how D.C.'s cherry trees almost never took root, go to our website, NPR.org.

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