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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Cherry Blossom Festival has been around for 39 years. For the first time in history, it has been canceled.
As COVID-19 cases grow, organizers say the call had to be made. “I’m sad,” Cherry Blossom Founder Carolyn Crayton said. “We will all miss the festival. It is such a joyous time of the year that brings us all together.”
As mass cancellations happen around the country, here in Macon, Cherry Blossom Festival organizers and health experts voted unanimously to cancel this year’s festival. “It was an extremely difficult decision to make, but one that we understood was necessary for our organization and for our community,” Cherry Blossom Board Chair Alex Habersham said.
The Center of Disease Control recommends organizers cancel events that attract 500 people or more due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “500 is a very small event for the Cherry Blossom Festival. Almost all of our events will be well over 500 people,” Bill Fickling III with the festival said.
Mayor Robert Reichert says canceling Cherry Blossom Festival is the right call for everyone’s safety. “It’s one of the biggest events of the year, with a number of people coming here from all around the country and your decision will go a long way. I’m confident in helping prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Middle Georgia area,” Mayor Reichert said.
Earlier this month, Cherry Blossom organizers added preventative measures like more hand washing stations, signage and extra ride cleanings. “It would still be a risk by having a large number of people in close proximity of each other,” Habersham said.
Festival founder Carolyn Crayton says they’re trying to do the right thing. “This is just one of those things nobody expected and nobody wanted,” Crayton said.
Habersham says the festival will be back next year.