.

Bloom Season Precedes Cherry Blossom Festival

Festival kicks off April 7, but now is the time to visit Branch Brook Park.

Cherry blossom season is in full swing in Essex County and, with 60 to 70 percent of trees in Branch Brook Park currently in bloom, now is the time to visit the nation's largest exhibit, officials said.

The 36th annual Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival, sponsored by Aetna, kicks off Saturday, April 7 and ends Sunday, April 22 and is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors. But the has forced the early bloom of thousands of the park's 4,300 trees, attracting a crush of sightseers this past weekend.

"We're gonna urge everybody—don't wait 'til April 7, get out (to Branch Brook Park) now," said Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. Monday during a press conference at the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center.

Last week, about , kicking off the four- to five-week bloom season about 10 days early, according to Kate Hartwyk, director of the county's division of cultural and historic affairs. But some varieties of trees, like the double blossoms, will emerge later into the season, around early to mid-April.

"At this point, I can't really predict when they'll bloom," she said, noting the ever-changing weather.

With the park bursting in every direction with dreamy blush petals, this week is the best time to visit, said Hartwyk. Many trees will lose their flowers by next week or earlier, with temperatures dipping below freezing Monday night. The frosty weather may damage the existing petals, said Hartwyk, but the trees that have yet to bloom will be safe.

The collection of cherry blossoms at Branch Brook Park, which boasts 14 varieties, surpasses the historical display of about 3,750 in Washington, D.C. – and it will only grow in the coming years.

"We will hit the 5,000 mark, I promise that," said DiVincenzo. "We will find a spot for those trees."

Below is a list of events during this year's Cherry Blossom Festival in Branch Brook Park. Click here for more information.

Cell-Phone Tour
When: April 1-30
Time: Whenever
Where: Throughout Branch Brook Park

Dial in on the self-guided, 48-stop tour to learn the history of Branch Brook Park. Call 973-433-9047 or use your smart phone to scan the barcode at each location.

Cherry Blossom Challenge Annual Bike Race
When: Saturday, April 7
Time: 7 a.m. to noon
Where: Branch Brook Park, Heller Parkway, Newark

Cherry Blossom Festival Fundraiser
When: Saturday, April 7
Time: 3 p.m.
Where: Prudential Center, Newark

Yes! In My Backyard Lecture
When: Thursday, April 12
Time: 4 p.m.
Where: Branch Brook Park, Cherry Blossom Welcome Center (near Mill Street in Newark)

One-Mile Fun Run and Walk
When: Saturday, April 14
Time: 9 a.m. registration; 10 a.m. race
Where: Branch Brook Park, Southern Division, Prudential Concert Grove

Pride of Essex Community Picnic
When: Saturday, April 14
Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Branch Brook Park, Southern Division, Prudential Concert Grove

Cherry Blossom Trolley Tours
When: Saturday, April 14 to Saturday, April 21
Times: Sunday to Friday: Noon to 4 p.m.; Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Branch Brook Park, Cherry Blossom Welcome Center (near Mill Street in Newark)

Cherry Blossom 10K Run
When: Sunday, April 15
Time: 8 a.m. registration; 10 a.m. race; Race for the disabled, 10:10 a.m.
Where: Branch Brook Park, Cherry Blossom Welcome Center (near Mill Street in Newark)

Bloomfest
When: Sunday, April 22
Time: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Branch Brook Park, Cherry Blossom Welcome Center (near Mill Street in Newark)

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »