Friday’s showers dampen start of Cherry Blossom Fest

lbibb@macon.comMarch 17, 2012 

A storm that whipped through the midstate late Friday afternoon put a damper on the start of the Cherry Blossom Festival, but the weekend is full of traditional favorites as well as new events.

Wind gusts blew down vendor tents as well as an arch at the front of Central City Park, and the storm dropped hail as it moved through. The fallen arch blocked traffic in and out of the park’s main entrance for about an hour.

Joe and Venora Vankirk were in the park when the storm hit, watching as strong winds blew over chairs and tents.

“A lot of people had to close down their shops,” Joe Vankirk said.

Earlier in the day, Karen Lambert, the festival’s president and CEO, helped open the 30th annual festival along with other city and county officials.

“It was wonderful to have the community come together to exhibit such excitement for the festival,” she said.

The weather looks better for the weekend, although there is a 30 percent chance of rain Saturday, with high in the mid-80s.

Among the festival’s offerings for Saturday are the Pink Pancake Breakfast at 7 a.m., bed races at 1 p.m., high heel races at 2 p.m., and the Tunes and Balloons event at Macon State College, which begins at 4 p.m. (For a list of other Cherry Blossom Festival events, go to www.macon.com/cherryblossom.)

This year, Maj. Gen. Robert McMahon, commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, is scheduled to run in the Heels for the Cure race in what Lambert believes will be size 17 heels.

“He is a wonderful community person, and I just can’t wait to see it,” Lambert said.

Macon’s cherry trees are starting to fill out and should be near full bloom in time for the festival’s waning days.

To contact writer Liz Bibb, call 744-4452.

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