Local teams celebrate DC’s blossoming culture with the unveiling of new jerseys

Blake Bailey

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The Washington Monument sticks out from the sea of pink, across the tidal basin. This 2022 Cherry Festival marked 110 years since the original blossoms were gifted from Japan.

One hundred ten years ago, as a symbol of the blossoming friendship between the two nations (ignore 1939-1945), Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo City demonstrated a remarkably touching gesture, gifting 3000 beautiful Japanese Cherry trees to Washington, DC. Since then, the blossoms have become a staple of the nation’s capital, flourishing most notably in the area around the tidal basin. The unforgettable pink blossoms bloom every year and are the center of the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival, a time of food and fun, as well as elements of American and Japanese culture. The historic festival welcomes around 1.5 million visitors annually, lasting from mid-March to April.

Rewind briefly to the 2019 NBA Draft, where the Washington Wizards selected athletic forward Rui Hachimura, the first Japanese player to ever be selected in the first round of the NBA draft. With his jaw-dropping poster dunks, charismatic personality and notable success on the court, fans of the franchise began to clamor for more merchandise that celebrated the diversity not only boasted by the team but also the city as a whole. This culminated soon after the start of the 110th-Anniversary National Cherry Blossom Festival, when the Washington Wizards and the Nationals, via twitter, announced big changes for the respective franchises. The clubs teased new, limited-edition Cherry Blossom themed uniforms, merchandise and events, much to the excitement of the fanbases.

“We’re excited to unveil these beautiful uniforms as the embodiment of our historic organization’s hopeful future as we lead the District of Cherry Blossoms celebration with our friends at the Wizards,” Nationals owner Mark Lerner said via press release.

Nationals’ fans were thrilled with the release, setting an all-time MLB record in the first hour of sales for any limited-edition jersey team launch, beating the previous record by a whopping 58%. While the local baseball faithful can purchase Nationals’ Cherry Blossom merchandise both online or wherever Nat’s gear is provided, the Wizards will not be selling this new merchandise until next basketball season in November of this year.

Furthermore, despite the collaboration, the teams opted in two very different stylistic approaches to their new threads. The Nationals adopted a primarily gray uniform with white blocky letters and a bouquet of warm blossoms adjacent, whereas the Wizards adopted a hot-pink base with petals along the sides. Regardless, both have met fan approval.

However, some students find themselves torn between the two jerseys.

I love what the Wizards did with their jerseys, the pink really pops and it captures the Cherry Blossom theme really well… The Nationals jersey is pretty bland and gray – not a fan.”

— junior Kate Aschenbach

Still, for the most part, students’ reaction to the news was fairly positive.

“We’ve been waiting for these jerseys as (Wizards) fans since we drafted Rui, I’m glad the organization seems to be listening to fan input… As for the Nats’… those jerseys are pretty sweet, I’ve seen a few guys wearing them in the hallways,” junior Ariho Nda said.

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