The schedule for the 39th annual Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival at Branch Brook Park in April has been announced, and a variety of activities are slated for the park, which is located in Newark and Belleville. 1,000 new cherry blossom trees will be planted as part of the 2015 Cherry Tree Planting Project. The festival celebrates the fact that Branch Brook Park has more cherry blossom trees than any other park in the United States.
Events will include the Cherry Blossom Challenge Annual Bike Race on Saturday, April 11 on Heller Parkway. The first race will begin at 7:00am, and the last race will begin at 12:00pm. Riders who are interested in participating must pay an entry fee. The following day, April 12, the Cherry Blossom 10K Runs will take place, starting at 10:00am and 10:10am at the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center on Mill Street. Interested participants can click here to register, or can sign up at 8:00am on April 12.
On Saturday, April 18, Family Day will be celebrated at the Cherry Blossom Festival. The events will begin with a free 1-mile fun run at 10:00am. All participants will receive a t-shirt, and the race is open to individual children and to groups or schools. Individuals can register at 8:00am at the Prudential Concert Grove on April 18, though groups must call 973-268-3500. Following the race, events will take place until 3:00pm at the Prudential Concert Grove. There will be live performances, a fishing derby, and other activities for children. Food and merchandise will be for sale.
Bloomfest will take place near the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center on Mill Street on Sunday, April 19 from 11:00am to 5:00pm. There will be cultural cultural demonstrations, children's activities, live music, a crafter's marketplace, food and more. In addition, the winners of he “Why My Essex County Park is Important to Me” essay contest and “Cherry Blossom Poster Contest” will be announced.
45-minute bus tours will be offered of Branch Brook Park daily from Wednesday, April 15 to Wednesday, April 22, except on April 19. Tours will cover the history of the park, which is the oldest county park in the country. The cost is $5 per person, and buses will leave from the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center on Mill Street once per hour. Tickets will be sold at the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center on a first come first serve basis. Free self-guided cellphone tours are also available by calling 973-433-9047.
The Cherry Blossom Festival is sponsored by Aetna and Prudential.
Branch Brook Park is next to the Park Avenue, Bloomfield Avenue, Davenport Avenue, and Branch Brook Park Stations on the Newark Light Rail. It is also served by New Jersey Transit buses 11, 27, 28, 29, 41, 72, 74, 90, 92, 99, and 108.
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