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Cherry Blossom Trees Hold Different Stories

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With great blossoms comes great port-a-potties...
Stephanie Kaye
With great blossoms comes great port-a-potties...

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."

The National Cherry Blossom Festival officially begins on Saturday and runs for three weeks. Events include "Cherry Talks," nighttime lantern tours, parades and natural history lectures.

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