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'We will celebrate our friends': Macon kicks off the 2021 International Cherry Blossom Festival at Carolyn Crayton Park

Co-founder Carolyn Crayton says she can't believe starting this festival 39 years ago would bring so much joy to all of Macon-Bibb County and beyond.

MACON, Ga. — Friday was the first of 10 days celebrating Macon's beautiful spring cherry tree blossoms. At Carolyn Crayton Park, young children and seasoned adults alike came out to celebrate, and some say they have been coming since 1982, each of them ready to dance throughout the Pinkest Party on Earth.

Music, pink poodles, royalty, and even a pink "BirdLady" can all be seen at the 2021 Cherry Blossom Festival.

Carolyn Freeman, who calls herself "the BirdLady," has been attending the festival for 22 years.

"Can't you tell I love doing this?" Freeman said. "The kids look forward to taking their pictures with the BirdLady and everything."

Every day of the festival, you could see her in a different outfit.

Freeman also said, "Normally, I am in black and red, so this is the one time of year where I can go pink, for the next 10 days, and every outfit is more elaborate than the next."

Except this year's 2021 Festival Chair Ivan Allen says opening day isn't all about pink things and fun, it's about celebrating love and international friendships.

Allen said, "We will celebrate our friends from Mexico. We have folks from all over the world, right here, joining us!"

To top it off, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Macon-Bibb's Mayor Lester Miller came out to honor the festival.

"It is important to celebrate good times even when times have been so tough, and that is why I am so excited to be here today," said Governor Kemp.

The festival's co-founder, who is dubbed "the Godmother of Macon-Bibb County," Carolyn Crayton, was honored at the opening ceremony.

Miller said, "To honor her by naming this park after her today, it means a lot to all of Macon-Bibb County."

Crayton herself just can't believe starting this festival 39 years ago would bring so much joy to all of Macon-Bibb County and beyond.

"This is beyond anything -- I could've never dreamed of such a thing happening," said Crayton. "I am so honored and humbled by this love of people."

The festivities will continue all weekend and through March 28th, some of them in-person and others online.