This year’s national Cherry Blossom Festival will not have the same festive kickoff of Spring due to the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. But nevertheless, people will come to the Tidal Basin in DC. In times of great upheaval, the constant is treasured. This year the festival invited people to “Stand with Japan” and take a walk around the Tidal Basin in the spirit of hope and rebuilding. Here’s the announcement posted on the official Chery Blossom Festival website:

Beginning at 6:30pm on March 24, people will gather at Sylvan Theater (15th Street and Independence Avenue, SW) before walking the Tidal Basin. All donations received throughout the fundraising effort will go directly to the National Cherry Blossom Festival Red Cross Online Donation Site, benefiting the Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami fund.

People are encouraged to gather to reflect and participate in the walk around the Tidal Basin, where the cherry blossom trees, gifted to Washington, DC from Tokyo in 1912, have stood the test of time for 99 years. Our relationship with Japan is at the heart of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, and the Festival is uniquely positioned as a natural conduit to unite the millions of people who want to assist and express their support in a show of unity, and the evening of hope and perseverance occurs before the 16-day celebration begins on Saturday, March 26. The Festival’s diverse and creative programming honors the gift of trees each year and the enduring friendship between the two countries.

One of the most hopeful things I’ve done during the festival is joining a group to plant a cherry blossom tree in front of a public school. When I happen to pass by, I’m always amazed how big it’s grown.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival officially begins March 26.