You wouldn’t think it, but the cherry blossom capital of the world isn’t in Japan. The title actually belongs to Macon, Georgia in the United States.
Macon is home to 300,000 to 350,000 cherry trees, earning it the title and making it the home of the International Cherry Blossom Festival.
The city’s journey towards this unlikely title began in 1949. Realtor and Macon resident William A. Fickling Sr. discovered a Yoshino cherry tree in his backyard, a rare species in the American South.
Fickling did not recognize the species at first, even after consulting his gardener.
It was only in 1952 that he was able to compare his tree to the Yoshino trees in Washington D.C. and confirm what they were. He then learned to propagate them and share them with the community.
On the other hand, the International Cherry Blossom Festival came about because of Carolyn Crayton.
Crayton convinced Fickling to donate 500 trees to be planted in Wesleyan Woods, with the community doing the planting.
But Clayton took it a step further and proposed the Cherry Blossom Festival to celebrate the trees.
The first Cherry Blossom Festival was held in 1982. Back then, it was only a three-day festival with 30 events.
Now, it’s a month-long celebration, with hundreds of activities ranging from a cherry blossom street party to a cherry blossom parade.
Macon held the latest one last March, with the trees blooming from March 24 to April 2.
People who attend the festival usually go via a tour that takes you through southern mansions and the downtown, mid-town, and north Macon residential areas, where there are high concentrations of cherry trees.
Visitors also pass by the former of William A. Fickling Sr. and Wesleyan Woods, before ending at Fickling Farm.
If you’re worried about Macon losing the title anytime soon, there’s no need to worry. The Fickling Family Foundation donates thousands of trees to Macon annually, ensuring they constantly multiply every year.
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