By Sean Burke
UJW Staff Writer
Minor, 14, was in awe of the Grammy-winning singer Mya, who took to the stage April 13 during the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. Minor, standing on a planter next to his two younger siblings, was one of several first-timers in downtown D.C.
The parade was one of the biggest events of the city’s festival, which celebrates the gifting 101 years ago of 3,000 cherry trees by Japan to the United States. The two-hour parade featured gigantic floats, colorful balloons and high school marching bands from across the country.
An estimated 1.5 million people participated in the festival activities, according to Danielle Piacente, a communications manager for the Cherry Blossom Festival.
A portion of the crowd cheered on and waved at a carriage ridden by Washington Redskins wide receiver Josh Morgan, who was the parade’s grand marshal. Morgan acknowledged the attendees with a smile and a wave.
Three Cherry Blossom Princesses mingled with three enthusiastic little girls, placing their crowns on the girls’ heads.
“We all loved the idea of riding on floats and waving at everyone,” said Ms. Maryland 2013 Sarah Christian while standing beside Miss Teen Capitol City 2013 Dionne Wright, 16, and Miss Teen Maryland 2013 Morgan Lash, 19, a sophomore at the University of Maryland.
Kalise Goff, 7, cheered on her 17-year-old sister, Jade, when she passed by on a princess float.
Kalise’s other sister, Mariah, 8, jumped up and down for joy on a planter when one of her favorite cartoon characters went by on a float.
“Scooby Doo! I love Scooby Doo!” Mariah said.
Food and T-shirt vendors are also part of the annual event, selling a wide range of items, including cotton candy, hot dogs, and pink, black and white paraphernalia.
“T-shirt! Get your T-shirts!” shouted first-year vendor Cornelius Smith of Baltimore from his stand to the passing crowd. He sold nearly 50 t-shirts for $10 each before the parade ended.
Police were out in major force at the parade, and kept an eye on crowd control.
“Move back, move back!” D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Ronald Southby calmly asked attendees as he attempted to clear the corner of Constitution Avenue and Seventh Street.
Southby chatted with Petty Officer First Class Larry Kevin Sam of Virginia Beach, Va., who was in full-dress Naval uniform and visiting the parade for the first time.
“I’ve been in the Navy for six years and have always been on tour during this time of year,” he said. “This parade is amazing and I love it.”