Despite precautions surrounding COVID-19, people turned out to take in the peak-bloom cherry blossoms in Kenwood, Maryland, again this year, though many clutched their cameras with gloved hands.
People looking to bypass the cherry blossom crowds at the Tidal Basin often head to the suburban community in Bethesda and Chevy Chase, where the streets are lined with around 1,200 cherry trees.
This year leaving the crowds behind was, for some, more for safety in their determination to see the famous blossoms. Dave Jackson drove to Kenwood instead of making his annual visit to the Tidal Basin. “There are more streets and more space to spread out and walk away from people,” he said.
However, getting away from people was still a conscious effort this weekend in Kenwood.
Ashley Martin, a secret service agent who works in the community, said she expected to see fewer people out this year compared to last but that the streets still looked “pretty packed.”
Despite CDC recommendations to “social distance” at least six feet from others, some cherry blossom viewers still gathered in small groups to picnic under the trees or take pictures.
Longtime Kenwood residents David and Pat Johnson found this behavior concerning. Watching people pass up and down their street safely from their stoop, they said they wished the visitors to their community would be more cautious. “Typically, this is exactly what we want. It’s always a tradition here, but it’s scary that people are here and not taking this seriously enough,” David said.
Pat said she wishes more people opted for driving or cycling through the area to view the trees. “I understand they want to come see the trees, they’re gorgeous, but use your heads and keep moving.”
Like past years, the Kenwood Citizens Association hired off-duty Montgomery County police officers to help manage crowds and traffic. Organizers planted the notorious pink “no parking” signs in preparation for visitors during the blooming season.
Kenwood has served as an alternative blossom viewing option for the District and its visitors since a developer planted the community’s cherry trees during the 1930s and 40s to promote the neighborhood to potential home buyers.
David said he is glad the trees can continue to be an attraction even during a pandemic and said he recognizes that people are looking for a way to get outside and do something positive. “People want a way of being light and joyous right now,” David told The Wash. “Hopefully the blossoms are helping that.”