Shutdown Could Affect Cherry Blossom Parade In D.C.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Organizers of the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade in Washington said Wednesday they are appealing a decision to cancel the parade in the event of a government shutdown.

A federal budget official said Wednesday that if there is a government shutdown, the parade would be canceled. The parade runs along Constitution Avenue, which is partly National Park Service jurisdiction. Part of the road, though, is under local jurisdiction.

The parade is expected to draw about 5,000 participants, with one group traveling from as far away as Japan, according to festival organizers.

“People are already on their way, so we’re not ready to back down yet,” said spokeswoman Danielle Piacente. “We’re ready to appeal to whoever we can to keep the parade going.”

She said many other events would not be interrupted by the government’s budget troubles, but a Japanese street festival Saturday on Pennsylvania Avenue and scheduled performances might be.

The two-week cherry blossom festival is a 99-year-old tradition in Washington and draws more than 1 million people a year to see the city’s pink and white cherry tree blossoms.

For the parade, 13 marching bands scheduled to participate, including bands traveling from Ohio, Indiana, Georgia, Alabama and New York. Parade sponsorships also are sold to help fund the festival.

National Park Service spokesman Bill Line said that it’s too soon to know what will happen because officials don’t know whether there will be a government shutdown.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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