With the early arrival of spring weather and the blooming of the Cherry Blossom trees, downtown Macon will be a flurry of activity with Cherry Blossom Festival in full swing the next several days. From parades with majestic Clydesdales, to honoring heroes, to free food and enjoying activities with the entire family, the festival has something for everyone.
Here are a few of the free events for the upcoming week:
Cotton Avenue Revival Festival
This celebration of the legacy of Macon’s historic Cotton Avenue District will be held from 12:30-8 p.m. March 17 in the block on Forsyth Street between Spring Street and DT Walton Sr. Way, said Rachelle Wilson, director of engagement at the Historic Macon Foundation.
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In 2014, two buildings in the area, Tremont Temple and the Douglass House, were torn down, and now Cotton Avenue is on the Fading Five list, which lists historical areas endangered in Macon. Live performances will be held throughout the day, beginning with the Black Union Soldier Color Guard. Divine Divas of Soul, Central High School Chorus, vocalist James Duncan, Kali Dance, Dean Brown’s Dubshak Band, and spoken word performers Point Blank from Mercer University will also perform, according to a press release.
AJ the DJ will emcee the event and host an old school dance party. In addition to entertainment, a variety of vendors and different organizations will be available as well as a free bus tour of the district with historic stops on the tour, Wilson said.
The Cherry Blossom Open Air Market
This farmers/artisanal market will be held 10 a.m.-3 p.m. March 17 at 543 Plum St. Guests can “expect to see the finest in handmade and homegrown goods from the Middle Georgia area,” said Ryan Smith, co-founder of the market. “We also feature local food trucks and bakeries.” The event for people of all ages is “family friendly,” with lots of entertainment. “This year we’ve also partnered up with Macon Productions to bring local musicians like the Bearcats to their box truck stage,” Smith said. In addition to the music, 85 vendors will be on site. Smith said that more than 3,000 people were in attendance last year, and he expects at least that amount if not more this year.
Teams will take to the streets from 1-2 p.m. March 17 at Cherry and Third streets in one of the festival’s most popular events. “It’s going to be amazing,” said Hannah Jett Moore, marketing and sponsorship coordinator for the Cherry Blossom Festival. “The Macon-Bibb firefighters are going to have some competition. They are a crowd favorite, and we love them …but we are also excited to have some other people competing as well.” In this event, teams of five people compete with four people pushing the bed and one person steering it. Trophies will be awarded to winners. Cherry Blossom royalty and Petals, the pink poodle mascot, will also be on hand to meet the kids.
The 36th annual Cherry Blossom Parade
Floats and bands will take off at 4 p.m. March 18 at Cherry Street at Third Street in downtown Macon and will end at Mulberry and Third streets. This year, there are 90 entries in the event. “The best event for free is the parade,” Moore said. “We will have international floats, dignitaries, local celebrities, bands from local high schools and dance groups. It’s a really fun time for families to sit down and enjoy the parade.” This year, the world renowned Express Clydesdales will be a part of the parade. “They are going to be a big hit,” Moore said. “They are majestic and huge. We are honored to be selected as one of the cities to have them attend this year.” Last year, more than 10,000 people were in attendance.
Other free activities
The Third Street Park Festivities will be held from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 March 19-23. “We are going to have free Cherry Coca-Cola products, free cherry ice cream, and free cherry doughnuts while supplies last,” Moore said.
Heroes Day in Central City Park will honor people who served the nation or community. With ID, active, retired, reserve and veteran military members, Department of Defense civilian employees, firefighters, law enforcement officers and first responders will be admitted for free, as well as their families, Moore said. Admission is generally $5 for anyone older than 10. “It’s something we wanted to give back for what they have done for all of us,” said Moore.
The Cherry Blossom Easter Egg Hunt will be held from 2-4 p.m. March 24 at Middle Georgia State University. Moore said it will be “an Easter egg hunt like no other” with 10,000 eggs being dropped from a helicopter. It’s for children ages 2 to 10, with three age divisions. The participants will be behind a safety line while the eggs are dropped, and they will be allowed to hunt the eggs once they’ve landed. Bouncy houses will also be on-site.