It's Gonna Be a Lovely Day
With springlike temperatures and a lineup of great free activities, Saturday is not a day to stay home. Whether you have kids, family members in town or just want to put off spring cleaning, April 12 offers ample opportunity to get out and enjoy the city.
Let's start with the big one: It seems like the Cherry Blossom Festival has dragged on for weeks, but it goes out with a bang this weekend. Stake out a spot along Constitution Avenue between 7th and 17th Street to watch the Cherry Blossom Parade. Bleacher seats cost $15, but there is no charge for those who just want to scope out the parade from the curb. Be sure to arrive early; Even though the parade isn't until 10 a.m., spectators begin arriving around 9 a.m.
The parade boasts the usual barrage of floats, antique cars, clowns, high-school marching bands and sort-of celebs (folks like Miss America 2008 and the Disney Channel's Keke Palmer), but the real highlight is usually the Taiko drumming and dancing groups.
After the parade, skip over to Pennsylvania Avenue for the Sakura Matsuri Street Festival. Anime, J-pop, karaoke and Kirin beer are among the many aspects of Japanese contemporary culture reprsented here. Admission to the street fest is free -- as are the many performances -- but food'll cost you. The Japanese-America Society of Washington DC, which is organizing the fest, say food prices will be in the $1-$6 range.
Elsewhere in the city, enjoy a stroll through the (manufactured) jungle with a trip to the Zoo. Friends of the National Zoo (or FONZ, as the fund- and awareness-raising group is known) celebrates its 50th anniversary with kid-friendly carnival games and cupcakes for the first 1,000 visitors to the Zoo between 10 a.m. and noon. The heart of the action is the Zoo's Picnic Pavillion, but keeper talks and animal demonstrations will be held throughout the park until 3 p.m.
Free, family-friendly events are also on tap at other Smithsonian institutions. At the Postal Museum, families honor Jazz Appreciation Month by listening to music, reading lyrics and creating collage projects featuring the many famous faces of the genre.
Expect an experience fit for a 10-year-old boy at the Udvar-Hazy Center. In honor of the 400th anniversary of the telescope, the Air and Space Museum's annex offers telescope-themed talks and art activities throughout the day. Space Shuttle Flight Deck Demonstrations, in which children experience a simulation of a shuttle takeoff and landing, take place at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Younger museum-goers -- between the ages of 4 and 7 -- might enjoy the storytime sessions held in the Claude Moore Lab Classroom every hour on the half hour between 10:30 a.m.and 2:30 p.m. The event is free, but parking is $12.
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