April 14, 2012 - National Cherry Blossom Parade and Festival

– U.S.

More than 100,000 spectators from around the world will flock to Washington, D.C., today to see the cherry blossom parade and to have fun at the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival.

The parade will be awesome! There will be decorated floats and gigantic helium balloons (think Rose Parade meets Macy's Thanksgiving Parade). There will be marching bands, clowns, horses, and antique cars, like a lot of parades—but there will be celebrities, too, including an American Idol finalist, singer Marie Osmond, and Olympic skater Kristi Yamaguchi. Singers will sing, dancers will dance, and cultural groups will perform.

The street festival will be the biggest Japanese street party in the nation, with three stages for Japanese performances and more than 200 martial artists showing off their skills. There will be a wide variety of Japanese and Asian restaurant booths, cultural exhibits, and vendors. Anywhere you can see ninja and samurai while eating sushi and tempura is great, as far as I'm concerned!

Create cherry blossom art.

I used to love this project when I was a kid. Get India ink, white and red paint (tempura or acrylic), a sponge, drinking straws, and white paper. Use the dropper from the ink bottle to squeeze a large drop of ink onto the paper near one of the bottom corners. Quickly raise the straw to your lips, place the other end to one side of the ink drop, and blow the ink across the paper. Usually the stream of India ink will naturally branch off; reorient your straw and continue to blow each branch until the ink is dry. You can add more (smaller) drops of ink, as needed, in order to make a pleasing picture of a cherry tree branch.

Allow the India ink branch picture to dry.

Put some red and white paint onto a palette (or sturdy paper plate), and use the sponge to mix some of the paint into a pleasing pink color. It's nice to leave some of the white and red unmixed so that there is a variation in the color of the cherry blossoms. Dab a corner of the sponge into pink, red, and white paint and then dab cherry-blossom splotches onto the India-ink branches.

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