The Parks & Recreation Commission voted 6-0 to approve the festival to run on Sunday, May 6—or, if the Society prefers, to run on Sunday, April 29 with May 6 as a rain date.
“It was just a wonderful gathering, very family-friendly,” commission Chair Sally Campbell said of last year’s festival.
New Canaan resident Jackie Alexander, a member of the Society who is helping organize the festivals, said the events are traditional celebrations in both Japan and the United States.
“Cherry blossoms, as you know, are a harbinger of spring, it’s very fleeting, so it’s meant to appreciate the tradition of enjoying each moment of the cherry blossoms season,” Alexander told commissioners at the meeting, held in Lapham Community Center. “The festival is generally marked by arts, crafts and cultural activities. That is what we did last year.”
Commissioners voting in favor of the festival dates were Campbell, Hank Green, Francesa Segalas, Katie Owsley, Gene Goodman and Matt Konspore.
Campbell put the number of attendees at last year’s festival at about 200, calling it “a very controlled, easy group to have.”
Alexander said the group would have similar activities, such as Japanese kimono dressing, dances, live music, painting, bonsai trimming and a karate demonstration.
“I’m not expecting it to be bigger,” she said. “We would have the same tables and for the most part, the same essence of the event.”
Cambpell said the commission wanted to “keep the scale” of this year’s festival the same as last year’s.
“We do not want anything that’s going to blossom,” she said, prompting some in the room to smile.
Initially, Alexander had asked whether it would be possible to set Saturday, May 5 for the date with a rain date of May 6, but Recreation Director Steve Benko said baseball teams are using the park on that Saturday.
“Last year, Easter was a little bit later and school vacation followed Easter so we didn’t have a conflict with the baseball schedule,” Benko said. “To try and do it on a Saturday is really difficult because it’s right in the middle of baseball season. We will have a full schedule of games on Saturday, so it would be hard to do Saturday.”
Campbell noted that Sundays are preferable for families in any case.
Segalas asked whether it would be possible to schedule the following Saturday for a rain date, and Benko reiterated that Saturdays were out.
When he said that it’s not fair to cancel baseball games for the festival, Campbell said, “You do not need to cancel baseball games.”
Benko replied that the town would, “because of parking” with “two fields going all day.”
Campbell said that those seeking to park for the festival could be directed to the Richmond Hill Lot, as needed.
Benko said that on Saturdays, baseball games run continuously from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. “and to try and couple the in-and-out traffic of baseball with an event would be very difficult.”
Alexander said she would consult with the Society’s leadership about whether the organization would choose April 29 or May 6 as the target date for this year’s festival.