March 30th, 2009
09:00 AM ET
13 years ago

Rescue mission on the Mall

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/30/art.getty.cherry.blossoms.jpg caption="Thousands of Americans flock to Washington each spring for the annual festival celebrating the blossoming of the cherry trees."](CNN) - Paddling around in the Tidal Basin during cherry blossom season is normally a serene way to spend a springtime Sunday afternoon in the nation's capital. Yesterday, it was anything but calm as the wind whipped up white caps and made it impossible from some paddle boaters to get back to the dock. The paddle boat operators had to rescue several paddlers when they got stuck. Luckily, no one wound up in the water.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival, an annual two-week event taking place in the in nation's capital, commemorates the gift of 3,000 cherry blossom trees given by Japanese Mayor Yukio Ozaki in 1912.

First lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two trees on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park in a simple ceremony held on March 27, 1912. Three years later, the U.S. reciprocated, presenting a flowering dogwood as a gift to the Japanese people.

Today, thousands of Americans flock to Washington each spring for the annual festival celebrating the blossoming of the cherry trees.

–CNN's Sally Holland and CNN's Sarah Parker contributed to this report


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