By Christina Mennella Pentagram Staff WriterMarch 19, 2010
Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall welcomes the arrival of spring with its participation in the National Cherry Blossom Festival celebration which begins March 27 and runs through April 11 throughout Washington D.C.
As a part of the festival the Washington Waterfront Association will host the Musical Prelude to the Fireworks April 3, from 5 to 9:30 p.m. on the Gangplank Marina located at 600 Water Street SW D.C. Col. Carl R. Coffman Jr., JBM-HH commander will give opening remarks, and and some of the entertainment will be provided by the U.S. Army Band's Downrange, the U.S. Navy Band, Nen Diako - Japanese Tiako Drummers - the Marshall Keys Trio. Servicemembers, their Families and guests are invited to enjoy a beautiful fireworks display above the Washington Channel at sundown.
Rob DeFeo, the chief horticulturalist with the National Park Service, announced that this year's bloom dates are scheduled to take place March 31 through April 11 with the peak bloom period lasting from April 3-8.
It started in 1912 when Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo donated 3,000 cherry trees to the city of Washington as a symbol of national friendship between the United States and Japan. The cherry trees are said to be reminders of the strong and enduring friendship between the United States and Japan. "When the cherry blossoms were sent over from Japan to the United States, there were too many to go around the Tidal Basin, so they put the surplus trees down at the southern tip of Fort McNair where the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers come together," said Kim Holien, JBM-HH historian. "Every so often, we have a mini cherry blossom festival where these rivers meet for the 20 or 30 access trees we have at Fort McNair."
"The last time we did so was in the year 1996 when Colonel [N. Wayne] Ruthven was the commander, at the Fort Myer Military Community" said Holien. "We had a ceremony at Fort McNair with members of the Japanese Embassy, the Cherry Blossom Committee, and the festival princess," he said.
This year's festival kicks off at the National Building Museum on March 27 featuring performances celebrating both spring and Japanese art and design followed by a ceremonial program that includes remarks by Washington dignitaries.
"JBM-HH is actively involved in southwest Washington D.C. activities as part of our community outreach for Fort McNair," said Leah Rubalcaba, community relations officer, JBM-HH. "In fact, festival officials are looking to do an event at Fort McNair in 2012 during the centennial celebration of the gift of the cherry blossom trees."
"We are excited about our involvement in this year's Musical Prelude to the Fireworks festival," she said. "It is a wonderful family event with musical entertainment, food, children's activities, costumed characters and displays.
"The event culminates with a fantastic fireworks display shot from a barge sitting in the Washington Channel directly across from Fort McNair," Rubalcaba said. "Everyone is invited to come out and enjoy a great evening along the waterfront."
Visit the festival Web site at www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org for information and a calendar of events for the festival.