The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., may draw more than a million visitors, but the city’s 3,750 cherry trees pale in comparison to Macon’s 350,000. Here’s how the Southern celebration stacks up to its counterpart in the nation’s capital.
International Cherry Blossom Festival
2016 dates March 17 to April 3
Inaugural year 1983
2015 attendance 230,000
Origin story When Macon real estate magnate William Fickling Sr. visited D.C. in 1952, he noticed that the cherry trees looked just like one in his own backyard. He resolved to plant more, bringing 500 saplings to Macon in 1973 and eventually donating 150,000 trees. The festival was launched by the city’s beautification commission in 1983.
Historical setbacks Uh, Georgia thunderstorms? In the past three years, they’ve had 14 days of rainouts.
Where can I see cherry trees? Ingleside Avenue, Wesleyan Woods subdivision, Fickling Farm, and downtown near Third Street
What else can I do? Held March 25 through April 3, the Festival at Central City Park features amusement rides, stunt shows, live music, and more.
National Cherry Blossom Festival
2016 dates March 20 to April 17
Inaugural year 1935
2015 attendance 1.5 million
Origin story Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki donated 3,000 cherry trees to the District of Columbia in 1912 to commemorate a growing friendship between the U.S. and Japan. Twenty-three years later, civic groups came together to celebrate the trees that had become a city staple.
Historical setbacks In 1938 the construction of the Jefferson Memorial forced the clearing of some trees, and a group of women chained themselves together at the site in protest. The festival was also temporarily suspended after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Where can I see cherry trees? The Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park, East Potomac Park, and on the grounds of the Washington Monument
What else can I do? Hit the annual pink-themed parade (held this year on April 16) as it marches down Constitution Avenue.
Photography credits: Macon photos: Alan Thiese, William Haun, Matthew Smith; Washington D.C. photos: Courtesy of the National Cherry Blossom Festival
This article originally appeared in our March 2016 issue.