Cherry Blossom Festival 2012: Tourists flock to D.C. for early glimpse of cherry blossoms

(Photo: robeposse)

With Tuesday's kickoff to the National Cherry Blossom Festival set, some visitors got an early glimpse of the gorgeous pink trees at the tidal basin over the weekend.

The picture-perfect image of the tidal basin lined with blooming trees was enough of a sight to draw large crowds out ahead of the festival’s official start.

"Came down here Saturday morning. Left at 6 o' clock in the morning," said John Ridella, of Johnstown, Pa.

Sandy Valenzuela of Mexico was only here for the weekend and the warm weather gave her the chance to see the early bloom with her friend, Alma.

"I was actually lucky," she said. "It's a blessing, it's beautiful."

This is the centennial celebration of D.C.’s iconic cherry blossoms and more than a million people are expected to flock to the District to check them out.

It’s a tradition some families say they’ve been doing just as long as the festivals have been in existence.

"The movement of one generation to another generation and the tradition happening over and over again is really great," said Karen Cawthon, King George resident.

Although the blossoms are bringing in some early revenue for business in the area, they’re also bringing in heavy traffic. But many people tell ABC7 it was well worth it.

The National Park Service changed traffic patterns in the area to help ease the congestion.

Metro may be the best mode of transportation as parking is very limited.