Sakura Season Started Around This Time Last Year… Will We See 2021’s Bloom?
One of Toronto’s most popular spring traditions arrived on this day last year, with the popular Sakura in High Park website announcing that the High Park cherry blossom season had officially begun on March 8, 2020.
Now that we’re inching closer to the start of last year’s sakura season, we can’t help but wonder… will we get to see the sakura bloom this spring?
Last year, the city announced in April that High Park would be closed for the duration of cherry blossom season. (While the watch had technically begun in March, the floral bloom itself would not occur until warmer weather was more sustained.)
The closure stemmed from rising COVID-19 case counts occurring in the city, and concern that the typical crowding High Park sees during sakura season would promote viral spread.
Last year’s closure was weather-dependent; once the bloom period was determined, the shutdown commenced. To ensure public compliance, park enforcement City bylaw officers and the Toronto Police Service monitored the park, and those caught accessing the closed City park would receive a set fine of $750 or a maximum fine of $5,000.
While bloom-seekers weren’t allowed to visit High Park last spring, Sakura in High Park provided the next-best thing, with curated “virtual tours” of the park showcasing the beautiful blooms of years past.
As we reflect on last spring’s events on the anniversary of 2020’s cherry blossom watch commencement, our minds turn to how the municipality may approach this year’s sakura season. While closures have been a popular choice where mitigation of viral spread has been concerned, other oft-visited outdoor pockets of the city have implemented different measures, such as mandatory mask-wearing in the Distillery District.
So far, there have been no official statements from Mayor John Tory or the City of Toronto on the subject, and — as has been true for so many situations over the last year — it seems for now we’ll just have to watch and wait.
And, in the meantime, the Sakura in High Park YouTube channel is great [virtual] place to visit while we do.