This year, I am thrilled to be participating in a Willard Intercontinental Hotel History Happy Hour with the renowned Jim Hewes. The full description is included below. Make your reservation to join us on Friday, April 13 at 6 pm!
Cherry Blossoms at peak bloom in 2014. This year’s peak in DC is expected March 17-20.
Flowers of Friendship: Unearthing the History of the National Cherry Blossoms
April 13, 2018 | 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. | The Willard Room at the Willard InterContinental
What began as an idea to beautify Potomac Park, evolved into a complex initiative spearheaded by First Lady Helen Taft. Expressing her desire to have Japanese cherry trees planted along the Tidal Basin in an effort to create a public space where visitors and locals alike could enjoy the outdoors, she worked to bring the first cherry trees to Washington from a nursery in Pennsylvania. It wasn’t until 1910 when the Japanese became aware of First Lady Taft’s efforts that they choose to gift the United States with 2,000 Yoshino cherry trees, as a way to commemorate the lasting friendship between the two nations. However, after inspection upon arrival to the U.S., this shipment of trees had to be destroyed due to disease. The city of Tokyo would go on to send an additional 3,000 cherry trees to Washington in 1912. Today, drawing over 1 million visitors a year, the national cherry blossom trees in Washington, DC are Helen Taft’s greatest legacy and one of the city’s most cherished gifts.
Join Jim Hewes and Ann McClellan for History Happy Hour: Flowers of Friendship, for a fascinating and informative look at the history of the national cherry blossom trees, as well as the friendship between the United States and Japan, a relationship that blossomed at The Willard nearly 157 years ago.
In Conversation with:
Jim Hewes, Bartender, Round Robin Bar
Throughout his 30 years of working at the famed Round Robin Bar at the Willard InterContinental, Jim has established an internationally acclaimed reputation for not only his cocktails but for the history lessons he provides to patrons of the bar. “Jim Hewes is a walking DC History Channel and he makes a great Mint Julep,” says a frequent bar-goer. “Come for the drinks, stay for the history lesson.” Google Jim Hewes, Round Robin Bar, and nearly 11k search results appear. 90% of those search results speak to the famed mixologist that he is and the strong command of U.S. history that he possesses. A winner of DC Craft Bartender’s Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, and the 2017 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, Jim has become as synonymous with the Round Robin Bar as the bar is with the Willard InterContinental.
Ann McClellan, Author of Cherry Blossoms: The Official Book of the National Cherry Blossom Festival & The Cherry Blossom Festival: Sakura Celebration
A longtime Washingtonian, is the author of two books about the capital city’s cherry blossom trees and their Japanese heritage. The Cherry Blossom Festival: Sakura Celebration, and Cherry Blossoms: The Official Book of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Her life-long love affair with trees began in childhood, when she enjoyed growing up on a New Jersey campus laid out as an arboretum by Frederick Law Olmsted. Her earlier career included executive positions at prestigious organizations, including the Smithsonian Institution, World Wildlife Fund, and the American Alliance of Museums. Her newest book, Bonsai and Penjing: Ambassadors of Peace & Beauty, is about the bonsai at the National Arboretum, furthering her deep and abiding interest in trees of all kinds. A sought-after speaker and avid traveler, she is thrilled to have experienced cherry blossoms falling in Tokyo.