Petal Porches: DC’s unique cherry blossom yard-decorating tradition

<p>Cherry blossom designs adorn this D.C. neighborhood.</p>
Cherry blossom designs adorn this D.C. neighborhood. (Courtesy Michael Upright)
cherry blossom theme
Cherry blossom designs adorn this D.C. neighborhood. (Courtesy Michael Upright)
(WTOP/Michelle Goldchain)
<p>Cherry blossom designs adorn this D.C. neighborhood.</p>
cherry blossom theme
Petal Porches: DC’s unique cherry blossom yard-decorating tradition

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the most popular annual celebrations of the year in the D.C. area, with both locals and tourists rushing to the Tidal Basin and other locations to enjoy the sight of the pink and white blossoms. A relatively new tradition, however, has allowed residents of the region to be able to celebrate the beloved blossoms from their front porch — even past peak bloom.

For several years now, Petal Porches has invited residents and communities in D.C., Maryland and Virginia to decorate their front yards with cherry blossom-themed decorations. They vary from twinkling pink string lights spun around trees to flowery garland strings looped through fence posts to Japanese paper lanterns and beyond.

“This is something that kind of came out of those crazy pandemic times, a way for us to just brighten up those street blocks and come together as a community,” said Lauren Boland, National Cherry Blossom Festival spokeswoman.

This year, six different neighborhoods participated, culminating in a friendly competition where the winning block won a pop-up celebration on April 7. The Best Blossom Block this year was the 600 block of A Street NE in D.C.’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Michael Upright, a Capitol Hill resident, said he’s been participating since the tradition started, around 2020 or 2021.

“It made life a little better for us” during the pandemic, Upright said.

Danica Petroshius, a Capitol Hill resident, said Petal Porches is all about community building and embracing the bright pops of pink.

“Our block likes to take its own flare to this,” Petroshius said. “So each year, we’ve picked a sort of theme. So, this year, it was lanterns. One year, it was Minions … Another year, we had Peeps.”

Catherine McCulloch, another resident, told WTOP that participating in Petal Porches has encouraged the creation of an “extended support system” between neighbors, allowing for more camaraderie.

“For me, I’m the senior person on the block, so it’s been really helpful having people that are younger that I can reach out to and be part of the group,” McCulloch said. “It really has allowed people to come together who maybe before that would just be going to work during the day and not really helping each other out.”

Petal Porches, Boland said, is a “great way to just really immerse yourself in the community and see everything that people are doing to celebrate the cherry blossoms.”

Below, find a map of this year’s Petal Porches, which are expected to keep their decorations up through Sunday, April 14.

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Michelle Goldchain

Michelle Goldchain’s reporting has focused primarily on the D.C. area, previously working as Editor of Curbed DC for Vox Media and Audience Growth & Engagement Editor for Washington City Paper. She is the author of "D.C. by Metro: A History & Guide.” She also reports for Artsplained on YouTube.

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