Just Curious: What is the origin of the Cherry Blossom Festival?

Just Curious: Cherry Blossom Festival

This report has been contributed by Jayla Moody, a student from Mercer University's Center for Collaborative Journalism.

Fall is here and it’s bringing cooler weather and shorter days.

Before we know it, it’ll be January and cold and eventually, it’ll be March and pink. 

Macon and other central Georgia residents look forward to a certain event every year and it is something people from all over the world travel to Macon to see.
 
It’s the Cherry Blossom Festival, and we were "just curious" about why Macon celebrates these beautiful trees every year. 
 
We did some research, and there is in fact a specific reason.
 
William Fickling, a local realtor discovered a Yoshino cherry tree in his Macon backyard in 1949, according to the festival’s website. 
 
He traveled to Washington D.C. in 1952 and found a similar tree. After much fascination and research, Fickling would eventually begin to bring the trees back to his home community and spread them. 
 
“William Fickling gave us over the years 30,000 Yoshino cherry trees,” said Carolyn Crayton, festival founder. 
The festival began in 1982 under the Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission as a token of appreciation and a birthday gift to Fickling. 
 
“I had the wonderful vision of thanking and celebrating the gift of the cherry trees that had been given to us by the Fickling family,” she said. 
 
Crayton planned an entire weekend filled with 30 different events, including Fickling’s actual birthday party held at Wesleyan College.  
 
“That was the beginning of The Cherry Blossom Festival,” she said. 
 
Since then, the festival has grown to be a month long and internationally recognized. 
 
Today, the Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the Top 20 events in the South, Top 50 Events in the U.S. and Top 100 Events in North America, according to the website. 
 
According to the festival’s website, the Fickling Family Foundation is still donating trees to Macon-Bibb County residents every year as the city continues to hold the title of Cherry Blossom Capitol of the World.” 

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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