Roosevelt Island’s rite of spring, the Annual Cherry Blossom Festival, will be held at a new location, in Manhattan Park, as the community gathers to celebrate the blossoming cherry trees and Japanese culture on Saturday, April 30. The event is organized by the Roosevelt Island Residents Association’s (RIRA) Social, Cultural and Education Committee (SCE).
The beautiful trees and live performances will likely attract as many as 5,000 visitors from the New York metropolitan area, both Japanese-Americans and other area residents, who purchase food from vendors and picnic near the trees.
As in prior years, the Cherry Blossom Festival will feature traditional and modern Japanese musical performances, demonstrations of traditional Japanese martial arts, including Samurai Sword techniques, traditional Japanese dance and tea ceremony. All performances are free.
At the RIVAA Gallery, 527 Main Street, there will be a Japanese Cultural Fair, consisting of several Japanese offerings, including origami, ink painting, calligraphy, Kimono Trying and Japanese games from 1 to 3:30 pm and Shakuhachi flute performance at 5pm.
Residents are reminded to celebrate the Cherry Blossom Festival all year round by purchasing specially designed coffee mugs on the RIRA website. Sales benefit RIRA.
According to event Co-Chairs Lydia Tang and Takashi Ikezawa, the event was moved to Manhattan Park because construction work on the Cornell Tech campus has affected the roads serving the southern tip of the island, making it very difficult to transport the performers, musical instruments and stage equipment to the location. Directional signage will be posted and guides will be available to direct visitors to Manhattan Park.