The Washington Post

Cherry Blossom Festival: Best events this week

Cherry Blossoms of the Japanese Yoshino variety bloom along the Tidal Basin, framing the Jefferson Memorial, early March 19, 2012. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

The cherry blossoms should be at their peak this weekend. But if you’re not keen on braving the crowds at the Tidal Basin, there are plenty of other ways to get your cherry blossom fix. Each week during the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which concludes April 14, we’re picking some of the activities you won’t want to miss at the Basin and elsewhere. For a complete list of blossom-related events, visit

— Kathy Orton

Cherry Blossom Freedom Walk

The theme of this year’s walk, now in its 15th year, is “Life, liberty and the pursuit of justice.” It seeks to raise awareness of the Japanese internment camps during World War II. Jodie Z. Bernstein, who chaired the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, is the keynote speaker for the opening ceremony and will be joined by Norman Y. Mineta, a former Cabinet secretary, and Kenichiro Sasae, the Japanese ambassador to the United States. The Nen Daiko taiko drummers perform at 9:30 a.m.. The walk is less than 21 / 2 miles and takes place rain or shine.

Saturday at 10 a.m. National Japanese American Memorial, D Street and New Jersey Avenue NW. 202-530-0015. Free,
donations appreciated.

Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival

What was once a few hours of pre-fireworks fun has turned into an all-day festival. Listen to such bands as Blue Tips Rhythm Revue and the Diggity Dudes; nosh on food- truck fare; have a cold one or two at the beer garden; visit the child-friendly zone with its strolling costumed characters, Japanese-inspired balloon art and face-painting; and shop at the Very Cherry Marketplace, an arts and crafts fair. Then find a spot to watch the fireworks over the Washington Channel at 8:30 p.m. The best places to see the fireworks are the Southwest Waterfront promenade or East Potomac Park.

Saturday from 1 to 9 p.m. Southwest Waterfront, Water Street SW. 877-442-5666. www.nationalcherryblossom
. Free.

Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run

It’s too late to sign up for the 41st Runner’s Rite of Spring, but it’s worth getting up early to watch the elite competitors this race attracts. This year’s field boasts three U.S. Olympians — Janet Cherebon-Bawcom, Jen Rhines and Colleen De Reuck, who set the women’s course record in 1998. The men’s record holder and last year’s winner, Alan Kiprono, defends his title. A total of $50,000 in prize money and bonuses will be awarded to the top 10 men and women. There also will be a 5K and a half-mile kids’ run.

Sunday at 7:30 a.m. Washington Monument, 15th Street and Constitution Avenue NW 301-320-3350. www.cherry

Japanese Stone Lantern Lighting

Made of solid granite and weighing six tons, this lantern symbolizes friendship and peace between Japan and the United States. The 81 / 2-foot-tall stone was carved 369 years ago in Japan and given to the United States in 1954 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of America’s first treaty with Japan. The lighting ceremony, sponsored by the National Conference of State Societies and the National Park Service, also features performances by the Japanese Choral Society of Washington and the Washington Toho Koto Society, remarks by Japanese ambassador Kenichiro Sasae, and appearances by cherry blossom queens and princesses.

Sunday from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Tidal Basin, circled by Independence Avenue, 15th Street SW and Ohio Drive. www.state
. Free.

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