First Lady to Honor Cherry Blossom Festival Tradition

Mrs. Obama to chair festival

WASHINGTON -- First lady Michelle Obama will serve as the honorary chairwoman of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which will begin next month in Washington.

The tradition dates to 1912 when former first lady Helen Taft helped plant the first two trees from Japan on the banks of the Tidal Basin near the Jefferson Memorial.

Organizers are excited to have Obama involved as they begin planning the festival's centennial celebration in 2012, said Festival President Diana Mayhew 
The pink and white cherry blossoms typically attract more than a million visitors each year. Organizers don't expect attendance to drop this year because of the ailing economy, said Mayhew. 
This year's festival begins March 28 and runs through April 12.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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