Pinch me, it's time to start Macon's signature spring event.
The Cherry Blossom Festival will officially kick off on St. Patrick's Day with the "Pink is the New Green" party.
" 'Pink is the New Green' and a great way to warm up to and kickoff the 34th annual festival on one of the most festive days of the year," said Festival President and CEO Jake Ferro.
The March 17 event replaces Beers and Brats, which unofficially kicked off the Cherry Blossom Festival for the past two years.
"This is the first year we've done this version," said Tracie Hill Davis, who does marketing for the festival. "It's on Saint Patrick's Day so you're supposed to wear pink and green."
The free event will feature food for purchase from Champions out of Roberta, a cash bar and music from Party Man Productions.
"Party Man Productions is going to be deejaying and (video)jaying," said Brandi Marks, who works with the festival.
The food will range from $5-$10 and includes items such as pretzels, mini-calzones and Irish stew.
The event will be a starting taste of Cherry Blossom, which begins its 10-day run March 25 -- a bit later this year because of Easter.
In the past, the festival has moved to an earlier March date when Easter falls during the traditional 10-day festival.
But, mid-March isn't the best timing for the festival's famed blossoms, Ferro said.
"According to Bill Fickling, who is an expert on cherry blossoms, he said your best opportunity for cherry blossoms is at the end of March, early April on the Yoshino cherry trees," Ferro said.
"So we said, OK, let's lock in on the end of the month and adjust accordingly."
The past kickoff events have drawn more than 500 people, Marks said.
Overall, the festival had attendance of more than 230,000 last year, and organizers are hoping to to hit 300,000 this year.
"My challenge to everyone in Middle Georgia is to come to one event," Ferro said. "Come to one event and you'll want to come back."
"Pink is the New Green" is free to attend but tickets are required.
"Pink is the New Green"
When: 7-10 p.m. March 17
Where: The Blacksmith Shop, 665 Poplar St.
Cost: Free, but must register for a ticket in advance; food and drink for purchase for $5-$10.