Cherry Blossom Festival

Cherry Blossom Festival ‘ends’ with big crowds

A cloudless sky and perfect blooms Sunday lured folks from a freezing morning to enjoy the last big day of the 2015 Cherry Blossom Festival.

Wesleyan College hosted the Party on the Green that began as the sun started its descent and ended with a Zambelli fireworks show.

“The weather’s great. The temperature is great. What a phenomenal finish to all of this,” retired Maj. Gen. Bob McMahon told Wesleyan President Ruth Knox as students from the Confucius Institute were getting ready to dance on the stage.

“When we talk about love, beauty and international friendship, this underscores it all.”

The young women from China dressed in colorful costumes that were brilliantly backlit as they presented several ethnic dances.

Clusters of couples, friends and families laid out lawn chairs and picnics to listen to the live music that music that followed.

Blossom the pink poodle was reclining after a busy 10 days of posing and primping and the yoshino cherry trees on campus were at near peak.

The trees’ timing might have been helped by souvenir T-shirts being sold at Central City Park that read: “Keep calm and they will bloom.”

Former festival Chairman Charles Jay said perfect trees and climate spell success.

“Seems like it’s one of the best ones we’ve had. This is our 33rd event and the turnout has just been tremendous. Of course, the weather is the key and the last couple of days we’ve had great weather,” said Jay, a member of the Chairmen’s Club that presents the finale. “We’ll have 2,000 or 3,000 people here. All family. It’s just a great family event.”

The Mulberry Street Festival took a little longer to get cranking than a typical Sunday, perhaps everyone was still thawing out from a record low of 27 degrees.

By early afternoon, streets and sidewalks were filling up and the people came hungry.

Crowds swarmed the Food Truck Frenzy leaving the MixD Up Rockin’ Burger Truck and Drive with no potatoes to lug back to Atlanta.

Folks gobbled up 900 potatoes, which meant they sold out of fries by about 2 p.m.

“Macon loves us. It’s crazy,” said Brett Eanes, whose food truck was here for the second straight year. “Last year was incredible and this year is even better because there are more people who know about us.”

The weather wasn’t as kind to the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department’s pink pancake breakfast on its second Saturday when temperatures in the 30s kept some people away.

In the coming days, the festival will be totaling up Central City Park attendance and evaluating the success of the gate fee.

Macon-Bibb Emergency Management Agency volunteer John Henderson was helping park cars at Wesleyan’s finale.

He’d been on duty for last weekend’s events, too, like the Bed Race and High Heel Race.

“It’s doing good,” Henderson said of this year’s festival. “I know the rain kinda messed it up the park for a couple of days, but I know the Mulberry Street Festival was packed.”

The 2015 event was dedicated to Sean Pritchard, a staff member battling leukemia and former Mayor Lee Robinson, who is being treated for colon cancer.

Robinson, a past chairman, made it to Wesleyan College to bask in the beautiful evening.

He was touched by the tribute.

“This festival is all about love and when the love is channeled toward you, it’s a powerful thing and I believe love is healing, he said.

Robinson also pointed out the festival feeling will linger with events now scattered throughout the year, like Tunes and Balloons at Middle Georgia State University in September.

“Our feeling is, Macon has so much to celebrate why just do it for 10 days?“