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Washington, DC Cherry Blossom Festival Begins

One of the sure signs that spring has arrived in Washington, DC - the National Cherry Blossom Festival - begins Saturday in the U.S. capital.

The two-week festival commemorates the 98th anniversary of the first cherry trees' arrival from Japan, and it coincides with the blooming of the cherry blossoms near the Capital Mall.

On March 27, 1912, then-first Lady Helen Taft , wife of President William Taft, joined the wife of the Japanese ambassador to the United States in planting two cherry trees. The first festival to honor that event was held in 1935.

First lady Lady Bird Johnson accepted 3,800 more trees from Japan in 1965. Those trees now circle the Tidal Basin near the monument that honors the late president Thomas Jefferson.

Formal opening ceremonies for the festival, featuring Japanese ambassador to the U.S. Ichiro Fujisaki, will be held later Saturday.

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