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Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival goes online as COVID-19 forces people indoors

Sunday, April 5th 2020, 12:51 pm - Virtual walks, self-guided tours available online as British Columbians told to stay home

The pale pink cherry blossoms that bloom across Vancouver in the spring usually draw flocks of people outside, but this year, it's a little different.

Public health officials are asking British Columbians to stay inside to minimize the spread of COVID-19. That's forced organizers of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival to get creative in finding a way to move an outdoor festival indoors.

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"We've had to take a lot of the programming online," festival founder Linda Poole told CBC's The Early Edition.

Instead of organized walks through blooming neighbourhoods, the festival has created "virtual walks" through the trees that anyone can follow online.

covid-19-vancouver-empty-streets/CBC Instead of organized walks through blooming neighbourhoods, the festival has created 'virtual walks' through the trees that anyone can follow online. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Winnipeg poet Sally Ito would have led one of these walks through the Marpole neighbourhood. Instead, website visitors can browse through photos of the cherry blossom trees accompanied by Ito's haikus.

The Cherry Jam concert has been cancelled, but the festival promises to bring the performances online.

Later this month, the festival will share maps for self-guided tours that people can do themselves — while maintaining physical distancing outside, of course.

Poole says keeping the spirit of the festival alive by moving it online was important as Vancouverites spend more time inside.

Cherry blossoms/UGC Cherry blossoms. Photo: Ana Danesh/Richmond, B.C.

"That's what everybody's telling me, that it's the cherry blossoms that are getting them through this right now," she said.

"And we still have many more to come until early May. We're very fortunate COVID-19 hasn't affected the cherry trees."

The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival runs online until April 26.

Thumbnail courtesy of Ana Danesh.

The story originally appeared on CBC.ca.

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