This year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade drew a fashionably creative crowd of people to the centennial Saturday.
Whether a visitor or local came to the festival, they shared the experience with the other half a million attendees to commemorate the cherry blossoms that were first brought to Washington D.C as a gift from Japan in 1912. Even if they were not wearing kimonos, many wore clothing with spring colors and flower prints.
One Japanese man was enjoying the parade before heading to Japan the next day on April 15. A Japanese woman accompanied him dressed in a peach-colored kimono with a checkered print.
Another man, Jeremy Monet, was dressed in a traditional Japanese kimono that he bought several years ago in Japan. He had just gotten to the parade and was searching for something to do while making observations about the attire in the crowd.
“I saw a guy in a Japanese shirt [and] people in full kimonos,” Monet said. “I like to see people get in the spirit.”
Paris Makell of Upper Marlboro, Md., was also looking through the crowd. She took Metro to the festival and was dressed in a black hand-made kimono that had large pink flowers printed on it.
“I really like Japanese culture and I saw a Wa Lolita outfit at a Japanese convention. I thought ‘I have to have something like that,’” Makell said.
She began to make the dress two years ago and it took her three months to finish it. It consisted of the kimono and a black skirt underneath to create the unique Wa Lolita look.
“I got some weird stares on Metro,” Makell said with a laugh. “I don’t think a lot of people expect to see a black girl in a kimono.”
Another festival attendee made her kimono in February for the Katsucon, a fan convention for Japanese culture and entertainment enthusiasts. She attended the Cherry Blossom Festival for similar reasons.
“I like to see Japan and America together,” Lauren Klaasse said. “It is also a nice way to kick off
spring and this nice weather.”
Her dress was made from navy-blue fabric and a fuschia pink belt bought from her local fabric store but she wished for “fancier stuff.”
Samantha Luna bought her brightly colored kimono from a store that imported it from Japan. The heat from the afternoon took a toll on her as she fanned her face with a pink paper fan to cool off.
“There are many layers,” Luna said about the kimono. Even though she did not make her kimono for the event, she is enthusiastic about kimonos and owns a few. Norman Armstrong and William Phillips were not at the festival to enjoy the parade or participate in the day’s activities. They carried large crosses and posters with the message “Put God Back in Schools.”
“We are here to put God back in schools and for people to know the true reality,” Armstrong said.
Both men came from Huntington, W.Va. and were heading toward the Capitol when they stumbled upon the crowds of people.
“We got a lot of good response,” Armstrong said, despite people staring at their large crosses and posters.
Close by was Makiko, who chose not to give her last name. She was wearing a light turquoise kimono that was given to her by her mother in Japan.
“She has a lot of kimonos and this one has cherry blossoms,” she said while pointing to the cherry blossom print. “Today is a very good day. Many people smiled at me and it is my second time here.”