Cherry blossom parade will draw traffic Saturday

The Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, a major tourist attraction for D.C., is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, and the Capital Weather Gang predicts a very pleasant day. So expect plenty of competition for space along the parade route on the north side of the National Mall and around the Tidal Basin, where the blossoms are.

The blossoms reached peak Thursday and should still be putting on a good show this weekend. Because of the variability of weather, they aren’t always this near peak at parade time.

Tidal Basin map Click for larger image of Tidal Basin.

The parade proceeds west along Constitution Avenue from Seventh to 17th streets. Grandstand seats, on the west side of the route, start at $20. But you can stand on Constitution Avenue between Ninth and 15th streets for free. Just get there early, especially with the good forecast.

The parade, with its floats and marching bands, will draw many thousands of spectators. I never recommend driving to the big festival events because the nearby streets will be crowded and street parking is scarce. D.C. police say Constitution Avenue and its intersections will be closed from Ninth Street to 23rd Street from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The nearest Metro stations for the parade route are Archives and Federal Triangle. Many visitors go to Smithsonian station and figure it out from there, which is a reason Smithsonian is so crowded at cherry blossom time. On weekends, parking is free at all the Metro lots and garages. Metrorail has no track work scheduled for this weekend.

Also scheduled for central D.C. on Saturday is the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival, at 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. The hours are 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $10. Children 12 and under get in free. The nearest Metro stations are Federal Triangle and Metro Center. D.C. police announced these street closings for the festival on Saturday: Pennsylvania Avenue between Ninth and 14th streets, 12th Street between Constitution Avenue and E Street, 10th Street between Constitution Avenue and E Street, 11th Street between Pennsylvania Avenue and E Street, 13th Street between Pennsylvania Avenue and E Street.

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.

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Robert Thomson · April 10, 2014

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