Cherry Blossom Festival Begins this Weekend
The Essex County events will be held throughout the month at Branch Brook Park in Newark.
April 4, 2013
The 37th annual Cherry Blossom Festival begins this weekend with a series of events being held throughout the month.
The festival is held at Branch Brook Park, home to the most diverse collection of cherry blossoms in the world. When the flowers are first in bloom, tourists from around the globe converge on Branch Brook Park, the largest in the Essex County park system.
Following is a list of the events this month:
Cell Phone Tours
Visitors to Essex County Branch Brook Park can enjoy a self-guided tour by dialing 973-433-9047 and following the prompts or by using their Smart Phone to scan the bar codes at each location to connect to a short history of the park. There is no charge for the cell phone tour.
Cherry Blossom Challenge Annual Bike Race April 6
The Cherry Blossom Challenge is a competitive New Jersey tradition and is an official NJBA event and a 2013 Garden State Cup event. Various races occur throughout the morning, with the first race at 7 a.m. and the last race at noon. Registration fees apply to racers, although it’s free to enter the park and watch. For information, please visit www.essexcountynj.org/festival. The Cherry Blossom Challenge Bike Race will be held 7 am to noon at Heller Parkway.
Cherry Blossom 10K Run April 7
Race through the historic cherry tree groves in this USATF-sanctioned race. The first 500 registrants will receive a commemorative Cherry Blossom 10K Run long-sleeved T-shirt. A portion of the race proceeds benefit the Special Olympics. Same day registration begins at 8 a.m. Advanced registration is recommended. Race starts at 10 a.m. Disabled Run starts at 10:10 a.m. A health and wellness expo will open at 9 a.m. and remain open until the awards ceremony concludes. Free to enter the park and watch. Both races begin at the Cherry Blossom Center on Mill Street.
Bloomfest April 14
A packed schedule of events includes cultural demonstrations, children’s activities, live music, a crafter’s marketplace, food and more. Winners from the “Why My Essex County Park is Important to Me” essay contest for 4thgraders and “Cherry Blossom Poster Contest” for 6th graders will be recognized on stage. Admission is free; food and merchandise will be for sale. Bloomfest will be as follows: 11 am to 5 pm, Cherry Blossom Center, Mill Street.
1-Mile Fun Run and Walk April 20
Celebrate the arrival of spring and get fit with your family or friends. Children are encouraged to run individually or as a member of a school team. This is a free event. All participants will receive a commemorative T-shirt. The Fun Run and Walk registration will be held at 9 am, with the race at 10 am, beginning at the Prudential Concert Grove in the park’s Southern Division.
Essex County Family Day April 20
The public is encouraged to come out and enjoy an afternoon of family-fun with a variety of events including a fishing derby, carnival games, music and other entertainment. Bring your own picnic lunch or purchase food from vendors who will be on site and enjoy the picturesque views overlooking the lake. Admission is free but food and other merchandise will be for sale. The Family Day will be held 11 am to 3 pm at the Prudential Center Concert Grove.
Cherry Blossom Trolley Tours, throughout the month
Have knowledgeable guides take you on a 45-minute journey and point out 118 years of history hidden within Essex County Branch Brook Park’s structure and design. Tickets are $5 person and can be purchased at the Welcome Center on the tour dates. Space is limited and available on a first come, first serve basis. Tours leave on the hour. Call 973-239-2495 to inquire about group tour bookings. The Trolley Tours will be held at the welcome center on Mill Street Friday, April 5 from noon to four; Sunday, April 7 from 1 to 4 pm; April 12 from noon to 4; April 13 from noon to 4; and April 19-21 from noon to four.
History, driving directions, a complete list of activities and a web cam where the public can monitor the cherry trees for the peak of the bloom season can be accessed by visiting www.essexcountynj.org and clicking on the Cherry Blossom banner at the top of the home page. More information can also be obtained by calling 973-268-3500.
The Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival is hosted by the Essex County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs. It is sponsored by Aetna and Prudential.
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