Looming Government Shutdown Threatens The Local Appreciation Of Pretty Trees

04/06/2011 03:03 pm ET | Updated Jun 06, 2011

Should a government shutdown occur, there would be any number of detrimental effects, the first being that thousands of government workers would have to come to terms with the fact that they are actually "non-essential personnel," which would essentially touch off a citywide shame spiral. Bars will be very crowded until everyone's money runs out, and then will come the street-fighting. I think anyway? My memory of the last government shutdown is pretty hazy. But there's one potential victim of the government shutdown that I don't think anyone considered until now: the annual Cherry Blossom Parade.

Every springtime in Washington, DC, thousands of tourists flock to Washington, DC to experience the sensation of looking at some pretty cherry trees, for some reason. These trees were given to the District of Columbia in 1912 by Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki to "honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two countries." "Ha, ha," said the United States after Pearl Harbor in early 1942, "We'll see your cherry blossoms and raise you a bunch of internment camps!" But, aside from that little wrinkle between nations, the Cherry Blossom Festival has remained a source of joy and a magnet for tourists.

But thanks to the looming, maybe government shutdown, the Cherry Blossom parade may not even happen:

The National Cherry Blossom Parade may not take place if there is a government shutdown, the Obama administration cautioned Wednesday.

Among the government operations and services that could be closed would be national parks, which includes the site of Saturday's parade in Washington, D.C.

A senior administration official singled out the parade during a conference call Wednesday morning hosted by the Office of Management and Budget.

Why did the White House wait until today to play the vitally important "Cherry Blossom" card? That's no way to win the future.

At any rate, this is the biggest single threat to the Cherry Blossom Festival since the beavers went rogue in 1999 and started chomping all of the trees down to build dams. (Citing George Washington apocrypha, the beavers claimed that they were just being "strict constructionists.") Festival officials are optimistic, however, and say that they are working with festival partners to develop "alternate plans" and "are optimistic that the Festival Parade and other Festival events will move forward as scheduled." (Check back here for information as it develops.)

The Hill reports that the festival has "drawn around 150,000 people in past years" and "creates at least $126 million for the D.C.-area economy," which is bad news all around. Of course, even if there is a government shutdown, people will still be able to "look at trees," and other traditional tourist activities in the District, such as "wandering around the streets while withering away in abject confusion," will proceed as scheduled.

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