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Behold! The Cherry Blossom Behold! The Cherry Blossom

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Behold! The Cherry Blossom

If you don't understand the appeal of D.C.'s famous blooms, you will after seeing these photos.

Cherry blossoms begin to open Sunday, April 7, 2013, in Washington. Peak blossom time has been postponed by chilly weather. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

When Li'l Sebastian comes to Pawnee, Ind., the fictional town on the NBC show Parks and Recreation, the whole town freaks out. He's a fantastic miniature horse that Pawnee and its tourists are inexplicably drawn to, by either his natural beauty or mass hysteria. Crowds assemble in his presence; grown men break down in pony-loving shrieks. There are souvenirs and "I met Li'l Sebastian" T-shirts. Everyone wins. Sebastian is also a financial boon to the city, acting as the centerpiece to the local harvest festival. (Here's a demonstration of Li'l Sebastian's power from the show.)


Perhaps the writers of Parks and Recreation found some inspiration for Sebastian and the opportunism surrounding marvels of nature from D.C's Cherry Blossom Festival. 


Cherry-blossom season in D.C. is a delightful time when millions of tourists descend on the capital city to clog up the subway system and stand on the left side of escalators. (Note to teachers leading school trips: DO NOT attempt to load 25 students on to a rush-hour Metro train. Someone will get lost, and it's not the child's fault.) Opening before other trees regain their foliage, the cherry blossom is symbolic because it is seen to be one of the first signs of spring.


The pink-and-white blooms command no small power over people. About 1 million or so come every year to see the blossoms.


Devotion for the trees goes back decades. Fearing that they would be chopped down to make way for the Jefferson Memorial in 1938, a group of 150 women chained themselves to the trees. The secretary of the Interior got them away by serving them lunch and endless cups of coffee until the women's bladders couldn't take it.


So what's the big deal? See for yourselves below:

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)


(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)


(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)


(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)


(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)


(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

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