The Wash
Family walking near decorated porches during the Petal Porch festivities

Homes across Washington DC compete for prettiest pink porch

Washingtonians adorn their houses with giant inflated teddy bears, bunnies, and pink swans as they compete in the friendly Petal Porches competition

Residents in the Washington, D.C. area have a chance to adorn their houses with pink as they participate in the Petal Porches competition, one of the National Cherry Blossom Festival events.

The Amazon-sponsored friendly competition was launched in 2020, just after the Covid-19 pandemic began. Organizers created the event to enable the cherry blossom festivities to continue in Washingtonian’s homes when the tidal basin was out of visitors’ reach.

Giant inflated teddy bears, bunnies, and pink swans are on row house porches across the city. The National Cherry Blossom Festival website provides a comprehensive map that includes all the participating houses as a guide for Petal Porch hunters.

Giant inflated bunny decorating a porch during the Petal Porch competition in Washington, D.C.

“This year, I noticed widespread participation. If you look at the map, you will see participating houses all over the DMV area,” said Aysha Malik, the Community Programming Coordinator for the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Individual participants are competing for the Prime Petal Porches award. Festival staff will shortlist the top three porches in each of Washington, D.C. Wards. Guest judges will choose the winners for each. Virginia and Maryland will get one winner each, according to the National Cherry Blossom Festival official website.

The eight Washington, D.C. Ward winners will compete later for The People’s Petal Porch award, which will be voted for on the festival’s official Instagram account.

A door decorated in pink during the Petal Porches festivities in Washington, D.C.

While many residents hope to win, some enthusiastically participate in the Petal Porch festivities just for laughs.

“We just wanted to do something really fun,” a Washington, D.C. resident, Margaret McCulloch said. “We did some fun decorations during Christmas, and the kids were crazy, so we just like doing it.”

“You get so many smiles, and the kids are blowing at the pinwheels and taking photos with the bunny. It’s just a lot of fun,” McCulloch said.

A decorated block during the National Cherry Blossom Festival

Several Washingtonian blocks are decorated with unified themes as they compete to win the Best Blossom Block award. The festival staff are looking for blocks with the most decorated houses but are also judging blocks based on their level of participation and overall effort.

“The winning block will get a free pop-up party,” Malik said.

A decorated porch for the Petal Porches competition in Washington, D.C.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival provided participants with inspirational photos and instructions, including a Petal Porches Amazon Wishlist that presented participants with a shopping guide.

Although the pandemic’s lockdown days are behind us, the popularity of the Petal Porch competition is still growing.

“During Covid, everyone came together to become a community. They started doing these block-wide decorations, said Karen Hopper, a Washington, D.C. resident. “It was probably Halloween 2020 that spawned the crazy coordinated decoration that you see now. They’ve just kept it going for the last two and a half years.”

Karen Hopper sitting with a dog on a decorated porch during the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.

Michael Upright joined forces with his neighbors to decorate their block. Their collective efforts allowed them to win the Best Blossom Block in their first participation. They chose Pretty in Pink as a theme for their efforts this year.

“We’ve been decorating during the holidays because we keep the lights up several months out here,” Upright said. “We do Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and then the Cherry Blossoms [festival]. Maybe we do Easter after the Cherry Blossom is over.”

Michael Upright standing on his decorated porch during the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.

The Petal Porch registration was open from February 2 until March 20. Registered houses are added to the official Petal Porches map.

Bibars Nakhesh

Bibars Nakhesh is a video journalist at the Middle Eastern Broadcasting Network and a graduate student at American University's Journalism and Digital Storytelling program.

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