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Blossoms to be at their best in late March, Park Service says

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For the 12th year in a row, the District's famous cherry blossom trees are forecast to bloom during the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

The peak bloom period for the 1,678 cherry blossom trees around the Tidal Basin is expected to be between March 26 and March 30, National Park Service officials announced Monday.

This year's National Cherry Blossom Festival is set for March 20-April 14 and consists of nearly a month of celebrations for the pink and white flowers that bring a million visitors to the city annually.

"The cherry blossoms straddle the line between being a national resource and cultural resource," said James Perry, Park Service chief of resource management. "After 100 years we have good indicators of the stage of development, but ultimately it's up to Mother Nature."

The announcement was made at the Newseum, where the five-story atrium was decked out in pink hues familiar to the blossom celebration.

The trees were a gift from Japan in 1912. Last year was the 100th anniversary of the gift of trees, explained Japan-America Society president John Malott.

"The questions is, what do we do for an encore? And the answer is, keep going," he said. "This celebrates many things: the arrival of spring, the beauty of the city, and our connection to Japan."

The blossoms peaked early last year, on March 20, due to warm weather, while in 2010 a heavy snow storm broke thick branches off some of the trees. The average peak bloom date is April 4.

The trees normally bloom between March and April, though extreme hot or cold temperatures have caused blooms as early as March 15 and as late as April 18.

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