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National Cherry Blossom Festival kicks off

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100 years strong, this year, D.C. will enjoy a longer Cherry Blossom festival, which means more cherry themed deals around town and more visitors coming to the city.

The cherry blossoms may have comeway earlier than expected, but the official festival kicks off Tuesday. (Photo: ABC7)

“We planned the trip to D.C. we didn't know we'd be so lucky as to catch the cherry blossoms in full bloom,” said Chicago resident Kate Brandt.

“Oh it's just glorious. We were telling the children how lucky they are to see the Jefferson memorial looking like this,” said Brandt, who said she considers the cherry blossoms a national treasure.

Thousands of people lined the perimeter of the Tidal Basin on this first official day of the cherry blossom festival.

It almost feels like the festival has been going on for several days though, as the iconic white and pink flowers are already in peak bloom—several weeks earlier than normal.

"Mother nature just wanted to come out right in the beginning for her show, but the festival does go beyond the blooms and we are planning for more wonderful weeks," said cherry blossom festival president Diana Mayhew.

The next five weeks of this centennial celebration will feature dozens of family-friendly events including the big parade on April 14th.

More than a million people are expected to visit the trees. In fact, organizers say the number of visitors is up due to the earlier than normal warm weather.

“We’ve been here and had on gloves and earmuffs so it was much nicer,” said D.C. resident Carol Whitley.

A brief, early morning storm kept the crowds away for about an hour, but as soon as the sun came out the crowds were back to capture this moment in history.

Sunday is opening ceremony and concert at convention center. Tickets are free, but, you must first register online.

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