“Despite the longest winters, nothing can stop the sakura from blooming, and they are in full bloom today.” Masanari Taniai, Consul and Cultural Attaché at the Consulate General of Japan in New York, spoke at the opening ceremony of last Sunday’s “Bloomfest” at Branch Brook Park in Newark.
Braving the capricious spring weather, thousands of visitors arrived at the park to celebrate the flowering of the cherry blossoms. A traditional Japanese symbol, cherry blossoms have been celebrated in Newark since 1927, when 4,000 were donated to the park by Mrs. Felix Fuld. “We now have over 5,000 cherry blossom trees in this park, more than anywhere in the United States,” Commissioner Patricia Sebold said.
Performances and displays were scattered across the northern part of the park, ranging from samurai sword techniques to a guided demonstration of ikebana, the traditional Japanese flower arrangement. Vendors and food carts accompanied the cultural events, with vendors displaying their handmade candles, glass earrings and incense while queues for funnel cakes and lobster rolls stretched out with hungry visitors.
Located just 15 minutes north of NJIT via the Newark Light Rail, Branch Brook Park continues to be a destination for students who want to escape campus and relax in beautiful surroundings.