County Sets Cherry Blossom Events

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Mother Nature has caused many trees to bloom early this year, but Essex County will hold the 36th Annual Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival in Brook Park next month.

The festival begins Saturday, April 7, with the Cherry Blossom Challenge Bicycle Race and runs through on Sunday, April 22, with Bloomfest, a day-long event of culture, music and crafts. If you can’t get to the park on a day that the county has something organized, you can take a self-guided tour by cell phone by dialing 973-433-9047 and following the prompts, or by use your smart phone to scan the bar codes at each location to connect to a short history of the park.

The Web site with all the Cherry Blossom Festival events (and a Web cam to check the blooms) is here. Here are some of the highlights:

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Cherry Blossom Challenge Annual Bike Race: Saturday, April 7, 7 a.m. to noon. Race through Branch Brook Park or just cheer on the cyclists. The race is an official NJBA event and registration fees apply to racers.

Cherry Blossom Festival Fundraiser: Saturday, April 7, 3 p.m. Cheer on the New Jersey Devils as they take on the Ottawa Senators at the Prudential Center. Tickets are $45 for balcony seating and $75 for lower level seating and include a $10 food and beverage card.

Yes! In My Backyard Lecture: Thursday, April 12, 4 p.m. NJIT Professor Neil Maher will discuss Branch Brook Park’s place in history and the emergence of the urban park movement.
Cherry Blossom Welcome Center

1-Mile Fun Run and Walk: Saturday, April 14, 9 a.m. Race individually, or with your family or friends. This is the first time the free event will be held in Branch Brook Park’s Southern Division in the newly renovated Prudential Concert Grove area.

Pride of Essex Community Picnic: Saturday, April 14, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Enjoy an afternoon of family-fun with a variety of events including a fishing derby, carnival games, music and other entertainment, and food.

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Cherry Blossom Trolley Tours: Saturday, April 14 to Saturday, April 21, noon to 4 p.m. Tours leave on the hour from the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center and last approximately 45 minutes. Admission is $5 and reservations are required. For information, call 973-268-3520.

Cherry Blossom 10K Run: April 15, 8 a.m. registration, 10 a.m. race. USATF-sanctioned race that includes a competitive 10K Run and a Race for the Disabled. A portion of the race proceeds benefit the Special Olympics. Fees for the 10K run are $18 if registration is submitted by March 30t, $16 for USATF-NJ members and $20 for late registrations.

Bloomfest: Sunday, April 22, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Events include cultural demonstrations, children’s activities, live music, a crafter’s marketplace, food and more. Admission is free; food and merchandise will be for sale.

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