Will cherry blossoms make an appearance in time for this year's festival?

(WJLA) - With blue skies overhead and spring officially here, we are now less than three weeks away from the peak bloom of the famous D.C. cherry blossoms.

Thursday marks the first day of the festival, and a chance to see how the trees and buds are progressing after a long winter.

Already, the district is seeing an influx of tourists and sight-seers, hoping to catch a glimpse of blossoms in bloom.

"They look pretty fat. I think they might bloom soon," tourist Donna Kessler said Thursday. "But they might have some flakes on them next week," Kessler added, in reference to possible snow in the forecast for this coming Tuesday.

The peak bloom is considered to be when 70 percent of these blossoms are opened.

As of now, that time is expected to be between April 8 and 12.

Some tourists who turned out Thursday for the start of the festival were disappointed not to see any blossoms yet.

Heather Hall traveled here all the way from North Carolina with her daughter's fifth-grade class. She said she's disappointed not to have her daughter see any pink.

"Its just a part of D.C. -- to see all the pink and the blooms on the trees," she said. "That's my memory of it."

The Horan came up from Florida Thursday in hopes that their pre-planned trip would time out just right.

"We really wanted to see the cherry blossoms -- but halfway up here we realized we're gonna see snow, not cherry blossoms," said Kimberly Stewart Horan.

Festival events kicked off Thursday and will last for a month, said Diana Mayhew, a cherry blossom festival spokesperson.

"The National Cherry Blossom Festival has about 1.5 million attendees each year," Mayhew explained. "Some of those are residents, and about 45 percent are out-of-town visitors."

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