“Despite the longest of winters, nothing can stop the sakura from blooming, and they are in full bloom today.” Masanari Taniai, Consul & Cultural Attaché to the General Consulate of Japan in New York, spoke at the opening ceremony for last Sunday’s “Bloomfest” in Newark’s Branch Brook Park.
Braving the temperamental spring weather, thousands of visitors arrived at the park to celebrate the blooming Cherry Blossoms. A traditional Japanese symbol, cherry blossoms have been celebrated in Newark since 1927 when 4,000 were gifted to the park by Mrs. Felix Fuld. “We now have over 5,000 cherry blossom trees in this park, more than any place in the United States,” said Commissioner Patricia Sebold.
Performances and exhibitions were scattered throughout the northern portion of the park, ranging from samurai sword skills to a guided demonstration of ikebana, traditional Japanese floral arranging. Vendors and food carts accompanied the cultural events, with sellers displaying their handmade candles, glass earrings and incense while lines for funnel cake and lobster rolls stretched with hungry visitors.
Located only 15 minutes north of NJIT via the Newark Light Rail, Branch Brook Park continues to be a destination for students to escape campus and relax in a beautiful setting.