The 1st annual Peekskill Cherry Blossom Festival, symbolizing “100 cherry trees that will live on forever”, is taking place on Saturday, April 28th, from 10am-6pm, at Peekskill Riverfront Green, Peekskill, NY. For more information check out the event on our Facebook page.
Peekskill blossom lovers can enjoy the upcoming annual cherry blossom festival, and for a good cause - to give back to the community.
One of the event’s sponsor, Manzer's Landscape Design & Development, Inc., donated time and labor to install and maintain 100 cherry trees - an $80,000 gift to the city from the Rotary Club of Peekskill.
Manzer's Landscape Design & Development owner and President of the Rotary Club, Chappy Manzer, secured the trees wholesale, and has so far planted 80 trees, laid all the way down the riverfront, from Peekskill to China Pier. The remaining 20 trees are planned to be planted in the fall near Charles Point Marina, all at no cost.
“The long-term goal [of the event] is to bring a multi-week cherry blossom festival to the community. We want something similar to the festivals that go on in Washington DC and Belleville, New Jersey,” Manzer said.
Reminiscing about his childhood memories of a closely-knitted community and lively riverfront events, Manzer is optimistic about further involvement in the charity event from local restaurants.
For now, the team is working with Peekskill schools. By organizing a poster competition, schools are encouraging the students’ healthy competitive spirit and involving them in the festival.
“Next year, we hope to work with the Hen Hud and/or Walter Panas school districts as well. Then maybe expand into Putnam Valley and/or Yorktown. We want to involve the entire region,” said Manzer.
Supporting Literacy in the Community
What originally started as an idea to celebrate the Rotary Club’s 100-year anniversary has grown into an annual event that supports literacy in the community.
Back in January, Peekskill Rotary's Reading is Fundamental Committee launched its newest project, the Golden Bookshelf. With the goal of increasing literacy skills among pre-school and school-age children, the committee crafted ten “Golden Bookshelves” which were strategically placed at different points in town. The bookshelves include new and gently used books in English and Spanish for children in need. The festival is perfect for the further development of the project.
Lisa Montalto, a member of the Rotarian Club, says that money from grants and book donations are what fill the shelves. “Rotarians, along with Hudson River Health Care and other community groups, have been instrumental in building bookshelves and placing them throughout the community.”
“We will set up a spot at the cherry blossom festival and have a book drive for books that are suitable for newborns up to eighth-graders,” she said.
Education Through Spring Outdoor Activities
The festival celebrates the beauty of spring with great food and lots of interesting activities, including a plant sale, ceramic pot painting, and an educational scavenger hunt. It’s an opportunity for kids to learn more about cherry trees and help them nurture their love for nature. With the Cherry Blossom Tree Guided Tours, kids can collect seeds and learn how to plant their own cherry trees.
“The educational component of this is important,” said Mary F. Foster, a Rotarian and a former Peekskill mayor.
“Getting the youth reacquainted with the riverfront and all it has to offer is something we are excited about. We are also working with the schools to come up with a way to tie in Arbor Day and Earth Day, which take place right around the time of the festival.”
“The riverfront is so nice and adding the cherry trees makes it that much nicer,” said Manzer. “This is our gift to Peekskill and surrounding towns that allows everyone to get out of the house and celebrate the beginning of spring.”
In addition to being a sponsor of the festival, Manzer’s is a well-known contributor to the community. Some of their recent donations and involvement include donating mulch to the Putnam Valley School District and the installation of the Teaching Garden at the Westchester Community College.