WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The city’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival featured a performance by 40 Eastview Middle School students.
The 14th-annual festival honors the tradition of viewing the cherry blossoms, which represent the end of winter and beginning of new life in Japanese culture. It featured Japanese games and crafts, storytelling, dance and music, including selections from Eastview Chorus members. They performed:
- “Cherry Blossoms”
- “Sakura,” a Japanese folk song
- “Murasame,” which means the mist of evening
- “Koinobori,” which tells the story of the carp (a symbol of vigor and determination) who must overcome all obstacles to swim upstream.
- “Hotaru Koi,” which translates to come firefly, come.
- “Airang,” a Korean folk song believed to be more than one thousand years old and is known as the unofficial Korean national anthem.
The festival, held April 28, originated in 2000 when a resident asked the Recreation and Parks Department to plant Japanese cherry trees in the city. It agreed and began holding the festival at Lower Tibbits Park.
The event moved to Turnure Park when it outgrew Lower Tibbits Park. About 100 cherry trees have been planted in the city.
Soon after the city began holding annual festivals, Niji No Kai, a Japanese-American nonprofit, began donating cherry trees. Eventually, it began coordinating the event, and in 2011 it used the proceeds to benefit the Japanese Disaster Relief Fund. Last year, it raised $10,000 from all of its projects, including the Cherry Blossom Festival, said Fran Croughan, of the Recreation and Parks Department.
The cherry tree and its blossoms, known as sakura, have a rich history in Japanese culture. They are a symbol of the cycle of life, death and rebirth, according to the city.