MACON, Ga. —
This report has been contributed by Clare Reverri, a student from Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.
The 2020 International Cherry Blossom Festival is a little more than a month away, so we were just curious, is Macon actually the cherry blossom capital of the world?
Carolyn Crayton founded the International Cherry Blossom Festival, and she played a major role in the distribution of cherry blossom trees in Macon.
“We came to look at Macon to decide if we were going to move here in March and the trees were in bloom,” Crayton said. “And I fell in love with them and I literally dreamed that my streets were lined with cherry blossoms.”
William A. Fickling Sr. found the first cherry blossom trees on his farm in Macon, and that’s where Crayton first saw them. Fickling helped Crayton’s dream of cherry blossom-lined streets become a reality.
“He said, 'I'd like to make your dream come true. And I'll give you these trees if you will distribute them and get them planted,'” Crayton said. “And so I did, and it just grew and grew from there. And in 1982, he had given us 30,000 trees to give away.”
According to the International Cherry Blossom Festival’s website, Macon has more than 350,000 cherry blossom trees.
Valerie Bradley, the vice president of marketing at Visit Macon, said the Cherry Blossom Festival is a big draw for visitors in the springtime.
“I think they are a beautiful flower, the trees, they are so pretty in the springtime, but also too, the Cherry Blossom Festival is a time for people to get together and experience what the festival has to offer,” Bradley said. “I think our city has really rallied around the Cherry Blossom Festival, embracing the spirit, the trees and promoting that out to people all over the world.”
But is Macon really the world’s cherry blossom capital? There’s nothing that officially says Macon is the cherry blossom capital of the world, but in 1983 Georgia Congressman J. Roy Rowland gave a remark about the Cherry Blossom Festival.
“In the years ahead, the blooming of these 30,000 cherry trees will be a sight that will not be exactly matched anywhere in the world,” Rowland said. “In my view, Macon is the cherry tree capital of the United States.”
Even though the distinction is not certain, Crayton is still proud of Macon’s cherry blossoms.
“I’m not sure I can say it’s the world’s cherry blossom capital, however (...) I can tell you that we have given away 365,000 Yoshino cherry trees to this community,” Crayton said. “And we are excited that we have so many beautiful Yoshino trees right here in Macon, and we have shared them with everywhere.”
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