The Ronald Reagan International Trade Center welcomed the unofficial kick-off to the National Cherry Blossom Friday evening (March 22nd). One night in advance of the Festival’s Opening Ceremony, a blush-swathed atrium and ballroom welcomed hundreds who braved a not-to-Springlike evening to fête the 170th anniversary of Japan’s gift to the Capital City in party style.
All evening, guests enjoyed delicious spring-inspired cuisine and cocktails from such local favorites as Ana at District Winery, Barley Mac, Columbia Firehouse, Dyllan’s Raw Bar Grill, Kaliwa by Restaurant Eve, Kingbird at The Watergate, Momofuku Milk Bar, Ottoman Taverna, Pisco y Nazca Ceviche Gastrobar, RASA, The Royal, Thai Chef Street Food, and TICO.
As hundreds of attendees mixed and mingled in their rose-colored finest, Oh He Dead performed its special blend of electro-pop; Yusaku Mochizuki incorporated movement, video art, and digital poi sticks into some mesmerizing cultural entertainment; and Simon Bull did live art painting before everyone’s eyes in 15 minutes (and sold an original in the silent auction to raise extra funds for the Foundation).
ARTECHOUSE’s AR bar was a hit, making craft cocktails come “alive” via an augmented realty app experience, while ANA’s AR Video booth took the virtual transport a bit father, allowing guests to see scenes from Japan and stroll through blooming cherry blossom trees.
There were magic selfie mirrors, a game of PINKU (think Price is Right’s Plinko, but make it cherry blossom), a botanical bar, swings, selfies that turned into edible cookies, and even a beverage bike that pedaled around the ballroom serving the evening’s most sought-after wine, Whispering Angel Rosé.
And now that DC has pink “tie’d one on,” the city is ready for several more weeks of special events, celebrations, and premiere programming to continue the Festival in peak bloom.