As a chief horticulturist with the National Park Service, it's Rob DeFeo's job to predict when the cherry blossoms will reach their peak. It isn't an exact science, but he thinks that, after a mild winter, they'll come a bit early this year. His guess is that the peak will take place between March 24 and March 31 this year.
It couldn't come at a better time for the organizers of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which has events scheduled from March 20 through April 27. Peak bloom will take place during the first few weeks of festivities.
The peak bloom date has historically come later in the year, according to NBC Washington, around April 4.
While peak bloom isn't an exact science, DeFeo says he knows one thing for sure: "It takes one hundred years to grow a one hundred year old cherry tree."
The Cherry Blossom festival celebrates its centennial this month with more than five weeks of arts and events. In 1912, the mayor of Tokyo gave 3,000 cherry trees to the city of Washington as a sign of friendship. Tickets are already on sale for the special centennial celebration -- which will be replete with performances, public art, a parade, exhibits and Japanese fireworks.
Businesses in the District are eager for the festivities to begin. Mayor Gray says last year's festival generated $126 million in revenue, and he hopes the upcoming activities translate into even more money for the city.
"We invited everybody to spend every dime they possibly can while they're in the city," says Gray.
Lee Calhoun, a former associate of the D.C. businessman at the center of a wide-ranging investigation into D.C. corruption, is said to have made campaign contributions in the names of other people.