Monday, March 31, 2008

Images from Third Street Park

Click here for images from Third Street Park.

Chilly weather doesn't keep crowd from enjoying ice cream

This depressing weather doesn't seem to be deterring people from getting their share of free cherry ice cream. While the lines for ice cream were much, much shorter this year than in years when the weather has been sunny and warm, there were still quite a handful of people in the lines during the opening ceremony and ribbon-cutting for Third Street Park festivities. The line for carriage rides around the park was even pretty long. Here's hoping the rain will hold off so we can enjoy more free cherry ice cream the rest of the week.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Kaleidoscope of Cultures still one of my favs!

This was my second Kaleidoscope of Cultures and I think that just like last year it was one of my favorite events of the festival so far. The Japanese drummers were back, and were still so much fun. It turns out they actually work at Epcot in Orlando, Fla.

Other countries featured were Sweden (the soloist had an absolutely beautiful voice), Taiwan (those ladies really know how to work their arms, and they did one of their routines to what I'm guessing was Taiwanese or Chinese techno, but I don't know the languages), Russia (awesome dancers and musicians who both got standing ovations), the Japanese drummers (they didn't cut up as much this year but were still very impressive), and the U.S. (represented by the impressive Southside Baptist Church in Warner Robins, who paid tribute to the different military branches and got the crowd on their feet for "God Bless the U.S.A.).

I can't wait for next year's Kaleidoscope. To the powers that be, can we get some Irish singers next year? :)

Here's some video of the Japanese drummers.

Parade of craziness

This year instead of watching the parade, I was actually part of the parade. (These girls in the photo were on the float right in front of us. We sat behind them for a LONG time before the parade finally got moving.) And even though I walked beside The Telegraph's vehicles the whole time, I couldn't tell you who was on the sidelines at the parade or how long it all lasted. That's because we were handing out mardi gras beads with The Telegraph's logo on them, along with candy and shirts and Belle magazines the whole time. Basically, we had two drivers and two people out on the street, three if you include our photographer Grant Blankenship, who was sweet enough to follow us and help us out when we came across him. First of all, technically we are not supposed to "throw" items into the crowd - we have to hand them out. But our beads kept getting tangled up and kids kept running out into the street to get some - even "grownups" were running into the street for beads. It's no fun getting mobbed, let me tell you.

And this leads me to one of my biggest issues with the parade. If everyone in the parade was allowed to throw out candy, then a lot more more would actually throw out candy, and then no one would be running into the street for candy. And what's wrong with throwing out candy? A parade is just not a good parade when you can't get candy out of it - that's whole reason I loved parades as a kid. I'm sorry, but really, look at our parades. They mostly consist of a bunch of random people sitting in cars riding by. That's not fun to watch. If there were more actual floats, that would be something. But we don't generally have a lot of floats in the parades that ride through downtown Macon. That's why we need candy. Why can't we all just let the people have their candy?

The weather isn't a team player

This weather is the pits today. It's not raining but it's completely dreary, windy and cold, putting a damper on all of the fun that's supposed to be had today. I guess the bright side is that I'll be so covered up today, there's no way I'll get more sunburned than I already am!

Here's some pictures of the Dixie Disc Dogs taken by Ryan Gilchrest to brighten the day a little and a video of dogs getting ready for the Pet Fashion in the park yesterday that Liz Fabian shot. Enjoy, and I hope you all still make it to the parade!

Balloon glow canceled but spectators still have fun

The Balloon Glow was canceled last night because of the rain. I didn't head out there because I was so disappointed, but here's some video Liz shot.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Were lawn mowers meant to race?

The Lawn Mower Grand Prix was, umm, interesting.

First of all, it was really confusing to figure out what was going on. All of Third Street from Poplar to Cherry was blocked off and they set the one speaker up in the center of that area. However, if you wound up one end of the street to see better (like me), you had NO IDEA what was going on. I couldn't hear anything the announcers were saying, the activity didn't seem to start on time, and I didn't see any ugly lawn mowers for the Ugly Lawn Mower Pageant.

The police and volunteers kept coming down the fences around the streets to tell people to move back because they didn't want anybody to get hit if there was a wreck. Well, what was the point of having a certain portion blocked off? Couldn't they have just blocked off a little more? The orange fencing was so high it was difficult to see over. By the time the lawn mowers started racing around the track, they went about 10-15 laps before stopping. Then this one guy took a lap on his own so I assumed the whole race was over and he was the winner and started walking back toward Mulberry Street. Then, I finally hear the announcer telling the crowd not to leave because that was just the first round and they were going to do two more just like that. It was too hot for me to stick around for that.

I don't want to be all negative. I thought it was definitely a good idea for an event. I also liked that they were passing out earplugs for spectators because the lawn mowers WERE loud. I just felt like there needed to be another speaker and a little more organization - these are all things that can be tweaked for next year. I also think one set of the 10-15 laps would be plenty because that was enough to entertain me. And it was fun to watch for that one set of laps.

The only other thing I didn't like is that the race was set to start at 2. The bed race, which also happened downtown, ended even before 1:30, so if you were hanging around downtown for the lawn mower race to start, you didn't really have much to do besides hang out in the Beer Garden. Luckily, Creme de la Creme, a new shop on Cherry Street, was open and serving ice cream to help people cool off in the meantime. I just think the lawn mower race should have started immediately after the bed race if they wanted to keep a big crowd downtown.

Just my opinions, though.

Here's some video Liz Fabian shot of the event.

Bed race regains momentum

This year's bed race put last year's to shame. The number of beds jumped from a handful last year to nine entries this year. And this year, you could tell the teams had fun. The Bed Rock Racer were probably one of my favorites. They all dressed up like cavemen and wheeled some wooden-looking contraption down Cherry Street. It looked like it would fall apart before they made it to the finish line, but that bed held up. I also liked the Magnolia Street Mafia, who I heard rode down the street in a hot tub! There was a huge crowd because of the warm weather and sunshine. That's right, I sad warm weather and sunshine. What happened to all of the rain and clouds we were supposed to be seeing today? Hopefully, that mess will all steer clear of Macon and it will remain nice throughout the remainder of the day.

Here's the list of bed race winners. They each get the chance to appear in tomorrow's parade, so we might get to see them again!

Fastest: Bud Light Bandits
Judges' Choice: The Children's Hospital AND Central Georgia Affiliate Susan G Komen Race For The Cure
Funniest: Bed Rock Racer
Most Original: Elberta Health Care

Here's everyone's times:
Pig in A Pit (I was glad to see a restaurant participating by the way): 28.53 seconds
Central Georgia Affiliate Susan G Komen Race For The Cure: 28.77
The Children's Hospital: 29.56
Bud Light Bandits: 21.05
Magnolia Street Mafia: 30.12
Elberta Health Care: 36.07
Bed Rock Racer: 31.85
L.E. Schwartz and Son Inc.: 21.25
Mid Georgia Apartment Association: 24.46

Congratulations to everyone!

Click here to view photos of the beds.

Pink pancakes prove delicious every year

Of course I had to get up and go have pink pancakes again this year! It's one of my favorite activities - so much so that I'll get up early on a Saturday morning just so I can get there before the line gets really long. The pancakes looked even more pink this year than they have in years past, and they tasted just as good as they always do. The sausage patties were a little spicy this year - for that extra "wake-up" kick. Yum.

Here are some of the Macon-Bibb County firefighters making pancakes from scratch in a truck. Yes, that does look like a power tool they're using to stir the batter.

Here are some of the men grilling up spicy sausage patties. I was told it takes a special touch to separate the frozen patties from their paper sleeves before they make it onto the grill - but they wouldn't share their secret!

And here's the yearly shot of pink pancakes being made!

Liz Fabian also went out and spoke with the firefighters this morning. Click below to watch her video.

Gala, a prom for Cherry Blossom attendees

The Cherry Blossom Gala Ball reminded me a lot of going to the prom. Everyone gets dressed up in a range of outfits - some in the more hoochie dresses, some in full-on beaded gowns, some in the more casual dresses, and some sporting hairdo's you would find in any hair-don't catalog.

There were hors d'oeuvres and desserts from Red Lobster, Satterfield's, Pig in a Pit, Healy Point, Natalia's and Wal-Mart, to name a few. (The chocolate mousse from Natalia's was D-E-V-I-N-E.) And The Grapevine are actually very, very good - I'd never heard them play before. They were a lot of fun.

The thing that most surprised me about the whole night was that so many people in Macon know how to ballroom dance. There were tons of couples on the dance floor throughout the night - young and old. Who knew?

I think I've also decided, and this is only after going to two events so far, that Mayor Robert Reichert's wife, Dele, is probably one of the best-dressed people in town. I'd love a peak at her closet! She had on this ruffled top last night that wouldn't look good on a lot of people - but on her it was so adorable!

Here are some pics:

Also, click on these links for video from Liz Fabian:

People really know how to boogie in Macon.

The Grapevine entertains.

Cherry Blossom royalty gets glammed up for event.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Pictures of cute tiger babies

Michael Inks of the Marcan Tiger Preserve was kind enough to tell us about the three 7-month-old tiger babies with this year's Tigers of India Bengal Tiger Show. The babies are Orissa, a snow white tiger; Ravi, a golden tabby; and Sahib, a standard Bengal. They're from the same litter and will be part of the shows going on everyday. They'll appear at the end of the shows, so stick around! They're about 90 pounds right now - the size of a large dog - but were only about 2 pounds when they were first born. As for the adults, there are seven adult tigers with the show this year.

Click here for more tiger photos - sorry if I went a little overboard but they're so cute!

And here's some video by Liz Fabian.

Festival kicks off

It's official! The festival has started. There were dignitaries, queens, princesses, poodles, Russian musicians and a dancer, JROTC, and Golden Boots. Now the fun can begin!

The Russian performers will all be at the Evening of Russian Dance at 8 p.m. Saturday at Porter Auditorium at Wesleyan College. They will also be at the Kaleidoscope of Cultures at 7:30 p.m. Sunday in the same location at Wesleyan College. Click here to read more about the performers.

Click here to watch Liz Fabian's video of the opening.

Click here for a gallery of photos from the opening.

Cherry blossoms blooming around the world

I found these pictures on AP this morning. Cherry blossom trees just happen to be blooming in Japan and Washington, D.C., right now. The National Cherry Blossom Festival also kicks off in D.C. tomorrow.

Here's D.C.

Here's Japan.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I thought I'd seen it all

I visited the Cherry Blossom Festival Gift Shop this afternoon to buy my 2008 festival pin. Did you know that you can now buy socks with pink poodles all over them? I'd thought I'd seen it all, but goodness. They almost match the T-shirts they have this year with poodles on them.

Tiger babies

Apparently there are three seven-month-old tiger babies in town for this year's Bengal Tigers show in Central City Park. I don't know more details, but check back here tomorrow after the opening ceremony because I'm hoping to go with Liz Fabian to check them out tomorrow morning.

Lacie goes pink

Telegrapher Liz Fabian got to watch this year as Lacie the poodle was transformed into Lacie the Pink Poodle. Click here to view a photo gallery of the whole process.

Also, click on the screen below to check out Liz's video capturing the event. It might take a second or two to load, but it's really cute!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cannonball House event

The Cannonball House sent out a press release for an event that was omitted from the official Cherry Blossom Festival events calendar. Here it is:

Candlelight Tours at the Cannonball House

A new evening event is planned for this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival. Cherry Blossom Candlelight Tours of the Cannonball House will be held Friday, April 4, from 6:00-10:00 p.m.
Living historians will be on hand to bring this historic home and its accompanying kitchen house to life during a rare evening opening. Some, portraying early Cannonball House residents, will greet guests in the front hall. Others will be busy at work in the old brick kitchen house. Not only will they interact with guests, they may also offer samples of food they are cooking on the cook stove, or perhaps a spontaneous musical interlude.
Civil War soldier reinactor-historians, a perennial favorite among Festival goers, will also be present. They will set up an evening camp in the back garden and explain to visitors about the evening activities of a soldier.
The Cannonball House is located at 856 Mulberry Street. It received its name because it was struck by a cannonball during the Civil War. The main house and its accompanying brick kitchen house/servants’ quarters are open for public tours daily during the Cherry Blossom Festival.
For more information, please call (478) 745-5982.

Monday, March 24, 2008

El presidente, are you sure?

The cherry trees in north Macon are in full bloom and some are even sprouting little green leaves, which will soon push all of the blossoms off. I don't know if they'll be able to hold out until the end of the week for the first of the festival, but here's hoping they do. Most of the cherry trees in north Macon are likely to be bloomed out by the second weekend of the festival for sure. At least there's no forecast for rain during the week, which means the blossoms will have a better chance of holding on. I haven't seen downtown this weekend, but I'm hoping those trees are holding out a little more.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Get in the pink with Mark Ballard

Mark Ballard is full of helpful tips for decorating when it comes to Cherry Blossom time. You can find a bunch of his columns and videos at detailing and demonstrating ways to create everything from pretty pink ribbons to festive bows. Click here to check out some of his suggestions.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

If the president says so, then we must believe

Telegraph writer Phillip Ramati spoke with CBF President Wright Tilley for an article in this morning's paper about the budding blossoms around town. Tilley says he thinks the blossoms will be perfectly timed with the festival's start:

"I think it's going to be perfect," he said. "We should have a good canopy of blossoms when it starts. It's going to be great for the early visitors to the festival. As long as we don't get heavy, violent storms, the trees should hold their blossoms."

If Tilley's correct and the blossoms are around for this year's festival, that will make 3 out of 4 years of such great luck under his charge. I still think maybe he's out singing to the trees at night.

Click here to read the full story.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bashful blossoms

There are few blooms starting to pop out in Third Street Park and along Riverside Drive in downtown Macon. There's one tree in Third Street Park, between Mulberry and Walnut Streets (see below), that always blooms early, and it's looking like it will be full of blossoms in less than a week. Most of the others are far behind it, though, and I'm hoping they will hold out until at least the first weekend of the festival.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The thrill of it all

In the About This Blog section on the righthand side of this blog I question whether or not the Cherry Blossom Festival gets to be old news once you've done all the events before. I got this email from a former Maconite and wanted to share it.

I love your blog! And you can definitely do the same things at the festival every year and enjoy them every time!! I'm a Macon girl living in Raleigh NC, and our family loves to come to Cherry Blossom every year! Our children (8, 3 and 9 months) have such a blast at the pink pancake breakfast, the Mulberry Street Arts Festival and then whatever other activities we can find to do in a quick weekend before making a long ride back to NC!
We can't make it this year because of scheduling conflicts (when they moved the festival because of Easter this year, it bumped up against some other planned events), and I am really feeling the twinges of guilt!
So to everyone in Macon, paint your cars, wear your pink, and get those blossoms blooming!

Chandler Francis

I've been having a hard time getting motivated for this year's festival, which is very unlike me. Maybe it's all this funky weather, maybe it's the delay of events because of Easter this year, or maybe it's just that the 10 days seem daunting when I remember how tired I was at the end of last year's festival. Mrs. Francis, I want to thank you for reminding me about that feeling of excitement and anticipation that I've been missing. Your enthusiasm is contagious and has ME feeling twinges of guilt for forgetting about that and losing that thrill, even for just a moment.

Meet the 2008 Cherry Blossom court

Belle magazine featured this year's Cherry Blossom queen and princesses in its March issue. The girls modeled prom dresses for a story about getting glamorous for prom.

Cherry Blossom Queen Emily Alston:

Cherry Blossom Princesses Chrystal McDowell and Elizabeth Taunton:

Cherry Blossom Princesses Natalie Lewis and Taylor Smalling:

Here's a look at the rest of the 2008 Cherry Blossom court:

Cherry Blossom Senior Queen Alberta Sims and Cherry Blossom Senior Princess Ruby Dunn:

Little Mr. Cherry Blossom Jay Sink and Little Miss Cherry Blossom Chanelle Washington:

We love our pink poodles

Lacie, the unofficial pink poodle and mascot of the Cherry Blossom Festival (Petals the Poodle is now the official mascot, even though Lacie is much, much cuter), made the front page of The Telegraph this morning. Apparently a woman in Colorado was fined $1,000 for dyeing her poodle a pretty shade of pink. In Macon, we don't frown on such festive acts, we encourage them!

Click here to read about pink pets.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

It's time to Think Pink ... maybe

The Think Pink program held its official kickoff event leading up to this year's Cherry Blossom Festival yesterday, March 1. I stopped by about lunch time to get my car decked out in pink by Peggy Whyte and to see if this was an event worthy of attending again in the future. I have to say, I wasn't so impressed. Yes, there was a carwash going on if your car needed cleaning. Yes, there was a little bit of craft-selling and face-painting going on, but not a whole lot. And there was food, but again, not a lot of choice. There was also a band, which was good, but they went on break at lunch time so I sat in the car line for about an hour with very little entertainment except for the constant of moving my car forward and backward as directed by the crowd of volunteers. I was at least pleased to see there was a steady stream of cars lined up to get painted, so I know there are lots of other people out there ready for Cherry Blossom time just like me. While I am ready for the festival, I did think it was a tad bit early to get my car decorated. I know the car-painting event is generally held about the first weekend of March, but with this year's festival being pushed back into April, it just seems a little early to be riding around with pink flowers. I understand it was probably the best weekend for the event, with needing a rain-delay day, St. Patrick's and Easter all filling in the rest of the weekends before the festival, but still, come on, it's too early.