On a "super Tuesday for the festival," Cherry Blossom CEO Jake Ferro announced the economic impact of Macon's signature event over the last 33 years.
Standing behind a pink plastic podium at Central City Park, Ferro explained that the festival has pulled in between $130 million and $180 million to the community since 1982.
"As Mayor Reichert would remind me, it's not just the economic impact. It's also about the quality of our life in Middle Georgia, putting our name on the map and so forth," said Ferro, who was sporting a pink tie and pink-striped shirt during the second annual Media Day.
Last year, an estimated 230,000 people attended Cherry Blossom events.
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This year, Ferro hopes to lure 300,000 people to the Cherry Blossom Capital of the World from mid-March to early April, as the festival adjusts to avoid Easter weekend conflicts and improve the chance of having blooms on the city's Yoshino cherry trees.
"My challenge to everybody in Middle Georgia and Macon, come to one event," he said. "And you'll want to come back, there's no doubt about it."
This year, during Third Street Park festivities from March 28-April 1, the festival will also recognize the 100th anniversaries of Nu-Way Weiners, Terminal Station and the National Park Service, as well as the Ocmulgee National Monument's 80th year and the 1,000th anniversary of the building of the Indian mounds.
The nonprofit, 501-C3 organization relies heavily on cash sponsors and in-kind contributors to supplement ticket sales to fund the festival and its free events.
Admission to Central City Park for those 10 years old and older will be $5, but discounted $3 tickets will be available until March 18.
The festival is offering reduced-price tickets to boost early sales at other events, such as the Style Show & Luncheon March 24 at the Anderson Conference Center, which will cost $30 until March 17 and $40 after that.
The Author's Luncheon at Idle Hour on March 29 also will be offered for $30 until March 22 before climbing to $40.
Regular ticket prices have dropped to $45 for the Blossom Ball on April 2 at Idle Hour, but early birds can get them for $35 until March 26.
Tickets can be purchased at www.cherryblossom.com.
"It really behooves everybody to take advantage of the opportunity to take a lower price to the ticketed events," Ferro said.
To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303 and follow her on Twitter@liz_lines