By Laurel Hattix
UJW Staff Writer
WASHINGTON – Behind the chaos of the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade were mothers’ tying bows in their dancing daughter’s hair and jittery jump ropers preparing to perform.
And then there was Marie Osmond.
With her heels gracefully propped up, the longtime singer and actress sat in a horse-drawn carriage patiently awaiting her entrance into the parade. Adoring fans snapped photos with Osmond, who was one of the parade’s honorary marshals.
Osmond seemed right at home conversing with her two drivers as she stood up to see the 15-year-old Belgium draft horse, Radar, who would be pulling her along.
Despite the small crowd that gathered around the blossom-covered white carriage, Osmond remained poise as she waited for her descent into the parade route.
“I don’t get much time off, but I wanted to make time for this,” Osmond said April 14 in a carriage-side interview.
Constitution Avenue was ﬁlled with a ﬂurry of unicycles, towering cartoon character balloons and newly shined brass instruments. The pinnacle of the Washington Monument and the grandeur of the Capitol were tucked behind masses of children perched on their father’s shoulders and shouting street vendors.
The event celebrated the gift of 3,000 cherry blossom trees from Japan to America in 1912.
As for Osmond, she took an opportunity to promote her new show on the Hallmark channel. But being in the Nation’s Capital also held personal signiﬁcance for the starlet.
“I am supporting my dad, who is a World War II veteran,” Osmond said. “We are here supporting the military and our troops.”
Capital Carriage, the company that provided the horse-drawn carriage that Osmond rode in, was no rookie to the parade. Proprietor Rick Jones said Osmond’s presence made it unique. Having participated last year, Jones was elated to carry a celebrity through the route.
“It is very special,” Jones said. “She is much prettier in person.”
Jones fellow driver, Linda Janet, was overjoyed to meet Osmond and jokingly announced that she just wanted her to start singing.
“I’m a kid all over-again,” Janet said. “She is very down to earth and has a great sense of humor.”
Other honorary marshals of the centennial event included Olympians Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, Kristi Yamaguchi, Shintaro Ishihara, Governor of Tokyo, and Ichiro Fujisaki, Ambassador of Japan to the United States.
The only blooming blossoms in sight were the giant balloons hanging above the parade route. The parade occurred well after the peak bloom of the historic cherry blossoms.
While observing the barren trees, Osmond joked, “The cherry blossoms aren’t blooming, but the gas prices sure are.”