ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — The 2021 Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival in Essex County Branch Brook Park in Newark will be held virtually because of the ongoing conditions created by the pandemic. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey is the premiere sponsor of the virtual festival.
“The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted all of our lives, but it has not stopped our magnificent Cherry Blossoms from blooming! While we continue to endure through this public health crisis, we encourage you to witness this natural wonder of the world come to life this spring through our series of virtual events,” Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo said. “Residents coming to the park to see the Cherry Blossoms should wear face masks and practice social distancing. We are at a crucial time fighting this virus, and we can not let our guard down,” DiVincenzo said.
“We welcome back Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ as our premiere sponsor. Horizon BCBSNJ always has been a great neighbor and partner and their support, especially during these difficult times, is instrumental in helping us present this year’s virtual experience,” the County Executive said.
This year’s virtual festival includes the following events:
The virtual Cherry Blossom 10K can be completed by runners anytime between April 3 and April 18. Runners can register at www.runsignup.com. All racers who complete the 10K will receive the commemorative 2020 medal and a long sleeve race T-shirt.
Musical performers and cultural presentations regularly enjoyed during Bloomfest will be presented on the Essex County Parks System’s Facebook (@essexcountyparks) and Instagram (@essxparks) platforms. Daily videos will present a wide variety of content including historic facts and talks from Branch Brook Park, kid friendly origami crafts, cultural demonstrations from past Bloomfest presenters, and live performances.
Historic Walking Tours by Cell Phone can be accessed by cell phone or smart phone. Spend the day exploring all 72 tour stops or pick and choose your favorites. One call to 973-433-9047 or a scan of the bar code at each tour stop unlocks a free world of park history and horticultural information.
Those who cannot visit the park can view the status of the bloom season on new panoramic cameras set up in the park. These cameras will bring the cherry blossom season onto the screens in real time on essexcountyparks.org so that residents and visitors can witness the breathtaking vistas.
The Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival is hosted by the Essex County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs. It is sponsored by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ and the Branch Brook Park Alliance.
Cherry Tree Planting Campaign
The general public and business community can participate in a fundraising campaign to purchase and plant Cherry Trees in Essex County Branch Brook Park. Each new Cherry Tree can be purchased for $225 from the Essex County Parks Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Contributions to the foundation are tax-deductible, checks can be made out to “Essex County Parks Foundation” and mailed to the Essex County Parks Foundation, 115 Clifton Avenue, Newark, NJ 07104. Please write “Cherry Blossom Campaign” on the memo line of the check.
Donations are being recognized in a “Cherry Blossom Giving Tree” located at the entrance of the Essex County Cherry Blossom Welcome Center. Donations of $225 are recognized with a leaf on the Giving Tree and donations of $1,000 or more are recognized with special plaques on the Giving Tree wall. Donors can choose to have their name inscribed on the Giving Tree or make the contribution in memory of a loved one.
Many of the original Cherry Trees planted in Branch Brook Park were donated to the Essex County Park System by the Bamberger and Mrs. Felix Fuld family in 1927. At its height, there were about 2,500 Cherry Trees in Branch Brook Park. According to the Branch Brook Park Alliance, the original Cherry Trees began to die because of old age and, in 2006, it was determined the original collection had diminished significantly. County Executive DiVincenzo kicked off an aggressive planting program to strengthen and expand the number of cherry trees. To date, there are more than 5,000 cherry blossoms throughout Branch Brook Park.
The Essex County Park System was created in 1895 and is the first county park system established in the United States. The Park System consists of more than 6,000 acres and has 23 parks, five reservations, an environmental center, a zoo, Treetop Adventure Course, ice skating rink, roller skating rink, three public golf courses, golf driving range, two miniature golf courses, four off-leash dog facilities, a castle and the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens. Branch Brook Park was created in 1895 and is the first park in Essex County’s system. At 359.72 acres, it is the largest county park in Essex.
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