Cherry blossom trees bring big crowds but few blooms

Thousands came to the Tidal Basin on the National Mall Saturday to take in one of Washington's most cherished springtime traditions, the cherry blossoms, during their peak of bloom -- but were disappointed.

The cherry blossoms, predicted to peak between today and Monday, have yet to fully blossom, still timid in the chilly air today.

But that didn't stop the tourists and Washingtonians from braving the traffic and the crowds to see the buds still tightly closed and the Tidal Basin only littered with a few trees popping of color.

“We were actually expecting them to be a little more bloomed than they were," Allister Hamilton of Arlington said today. "We read that the peak bloom was today through Monday. But it seems like a lot of the trees have yet to bloom."

Swamy Nabhan drove down to Washington with his family from New Jersey just to see the famous trees.

"What the websites were saying 60-70 percent blossoms were happening this weekend," he said, "Somehow we are finding it's only a couple of trees that have blossomed out when others are only in the budding stage."

Alexandria resident Heather Gregory said she has never seen the blossoms in peak bloom before.

"I was a little disappointed," she said.

But even though the blossoms weren't out, that didn't stop the crowds. From bumper-to-bumper traffic around the National Mall to packed Metrorails and sidewalks -- delays were everywhere as crowds headed out to take in the blooms.

"Horrible," Ingris Coreas of Alexandria summed up in one word on her commute into the city on the Metro to see the blossoms today. "It's packed."

More than one million people will come to D.C. this season specifically for the trees. At times the deluge of tourists leaves some Washingtonians a little bitter.

“It’s amazing how many people come," Dale Perry of Virginia lamented today. "I wish they would learn how to use the escalators. Stay to the right on the escalators. People don't stay on the left."

Cliff Hopkins of Silver Spring may have found a way to avoid the traffic and enjoy the blooms too.

"Even though the blooms aren't out there are a lot of people out and we came out the right way -- by bike," he joked today of his more leisurely commute than others. "If you don't mind crowds its not so bad. But its great to see everybody out."

Sunday is anticipated to be a much nicer day, with blossoms expected to open up a bit more and likely draw out even more crowds.