It's cherry blossom season once again. And in their 98th year in D.C., these trees have come to mean very different things to different people.
Although long-time Washingtonians may tire of the yearly cherry blossom countdown, local business owners hang on every "pop" of a new bud. Dr. Margaret Daniels, an economist with George Mason University, says those petals mean money. The festival brings in $126 million for the region, which Daniels says is a conservative estimate. "What's happening oftentimes is people can't get a hotel in DC. They're getting a hotel in Maryland or Northern Virginia and coming in for the day. Any major event like this is going to radiate out."
Even for a blossom bean-counter like Dr. Daniels, the trees hold personal significance. "When we were collecting data, I was seven months pregnant! So when I reflect back on the Cherry Blossom Festival, I think about the arrival of my son!"
For William Howard Taft IV, great-grandson of President William Howard Taft, the trees are a living legacy. "We worry about them, of course! We want them to go on. They're a major part of Washington's appeal at this time of year. It was my great-grandmother who was really responsible for it. Of all the things she did, I think it was the most important."