The snow may be falling but think spring.
A 12-day Buffalo Cherry Blossom Festival, with a “pink-tie” gala, garden tours, origami kite flying, a pink-and-white costume parade, rides on a pink boat, tea ceremonies, concerts and Japanese food and films is scheduled for late April and early May.
The new annual event was announced Saturday morning at the Buffalo History Museum, where organizers spoke next to a window that offered a view of snow falling on the museum’s lakeside Japanese Garden, which is to be the main site of the new spring celebrations.
The series of events, to be held from April 23 through May 4, will highlight the city’s park plantings and Japanese and international connections.
“It will draw people to one of the beautiful spots in Buffalo,” said Thomas Herrera-Mishler, CEO of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy. “We just want to share it.”
Members of the Friends of the Japanese Garden, one of the festival collaborators, said the wintry day was a good time to think about spring blossoms and the garden season that lies ahead.
“Today couldn’t be a better kick-off day because of the snow. It couldn’t be a better juxtaposition of the two,” said Paula Hinz, a volunteer with the garden, which opened in 1972 with donations from Kanazawa, Buffalo’s Sister City in Japan.
The cherry trees that line the garden path by the museum and lake seemed to go unnoticed when the blossoms were out last year, prompting garden volunteers to plan the festival that they hope will help attract more people to the site.
“We came for a ‘sakura’ picnic and we were overwhelmed by the beauty,” said Festival Chairperson Trudy Stern, using the Japanese word for cherry blossom. “People do not know that this beautiful place exists.”
Atsuko Nishida-Mitchell, a tea ceremony instructor and garden committee member, said the peaceful stretch of Japanese-style park, which includes about 150 cherry trees and small landscaped lake islands, is where people can “escape urban fuss.”
To volunteer, donate to the $4,000 fundraising drive or get more information, go to buffalocherryblossomfestival.com.
Stern said support has been mounting for the fledgling festival: About $1,000 has been raised so far on Kickstarter.com; the Japanese Consul General in New York has promised to support the effort and send a representative; and Olmsted Parks Zone Gardener Abi Echevarria, a Buffalonian of Puerto Rican heritage who studied garden technique in Japan, has been tending 28 cherry saplings in the greenhouse in preparation for planting.
“This garden is really a metaphor for ethnic diversity,” Stern said.