Steven Tai of the Taipei Cultural and Economic Office shows off his loyalties.

The opening parade for Macon‘s 2016 International Cherry Blossom Festival kept true to its theme of “Love, Beauty, and International Friendship” by showcasing the city’s international ties. Floats in the festival’s 34th annual opening day parade on Saturday, March 19, featured, among  others:

 Japanese manufacturer YKK USA Inc.

 Honorary Consul of Uganda C. Jack Ellis

 Director General Steven Tai, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office

Republic of China (Taiwan) Veterans Association in Atlanta

Latinos of Central Georgia

 Consul Midori Yamamitsu of the Japanese Consulate General in Atlanta

Sozo Children’s Choir of Uganda

Dragon Boat Festival in Macon

1797794c-3cc4-4a47-a5e1-e37ad2692c3cThe Macon International Cherry Blossom Festival is a non-profit organization that sponsors the festival each year to celebrate the beginning of Spring, marked by the blooming of  the city’s 300,000 Yoshino cherry trees that give Macon its title as “Cherry Blossom Capital of the World.” The festival, which began in 1982 under the auspices of the

Macon’s Sister Cities can be found in all directions.

Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission, features arts and cultural events throughout the city. The Yoshino cherry tree was supposedly fidiscovered in Macon by a local realtor, the late  William A. Fickling Sr., who found the tree in his backyard in 1949. At the time, Mr. Fickling did not know the tree was a Yoshino species, which is rare in the southern United States. However,  he later saw the same type of tree Washington, D.C., and learned it was indeed a Yoshino.

Mr. Fickling began to propagate the Yoshinos and share them with others in the Macon community. The city’s abundance of cherry trees reportedly captured the interest of YKK Industries’ Japanese executives looking to open the company’s first U.S. zipper manufacturing plant in Macon in 1974. Now YKK USA Inc., the company was introduced to Macon by Cloyd Hall, Macon resident and special assistant to then-Gov. Jimmy Carter. The company’s ties to Japan spurred an influx of international companies and residents to the city.

Macon's colorful parade attracts participants from throughout Georgia.
Macon’s colorful parade attracts participants from throughout Georgia.

Macon is now home to the honorary consulates of Denmark, Liechtenstein and Uganda, as well as dozens of international businesses, according to Honorary Consul of Denmark Chris SmithMacon’s international Sister Cities include Copenhagen, Denmark; Vaduz, Liechtenstein; Kampala, Uganda; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Elmina, Ghana and Ulyanovsk, Russia.

The annual International Cherry Blossom Festival has become one of the Top 20 Events in the South, Top 50 Events in the U.S., and Top 100 Events in North America, according to the Macon event’s organizers. It is now a month-long celebration that includes hundreds of activities. Visit for more information.