A cherry blossom festival is blooming in Greenport this spring
For a few short weeks each spring, the maritime Village of Greenport explodes in a riot of cherry blossoms that rivals Washington D.C.’s. But Greenport’s display comes with a bonus.
Like a pub crawl, only prettier, the second Greenport Cherry Blossom Festival Petal Tour is a self-guided walking tour of the village’s 300-plus cherry (and pear) trees in full bloom, with specially marked "pit" stops to purchase cherry blossom-themed cocktails, sweet treats, and gifts. You can catch both the blossoms and the specials now through early June.
FINDING THE BLOSSOMS
The tour starts with a free map. Created by the AgroCouncil, a 7-year-old not-for-profit promoting agricultural activities in Greenport, the map shows the trees over the village’s one square mile and tells you the species of each, plus the location of participating businesses. It's downloadable from villageofgreenport.org, or you can pick it up at AgroCouncil at Greenporter Hotel (326 Front St.; 631-500-0850, firstname.lastname@example.org), or at one of the 25 participating businesses.
2021 Cherry Blossom Festival Map by Newsday Editor on Scribd
"People with cameras and binoculars come every spring to see the trees," says Deborah Pittorino, founder of Greenporter Hotel and AgroCouncil. "We thought ‘How do we bring more? And how do we tie it in with our local businesses?’"
And so the Petal (and pub) Tour was born in 2019.
The AgroCouncil approached the village Tree Council for a map of the trees and then updated to include local businesses that were willing to run a cherry blossom special during the festival. Blooms usually peak around Mother’s Day. "We don’t govern Mother Nature," says Pittorino.
Charles Scudlo, 65, of Amityville, did the tour back in 2019 and can’t wait to do it again after it was canceled last year due to the pandemic.
"We started at Andy’s and then made our way up Main Street to Brix & Rye and ended at First and South," he recalls. "Every place had an hors d'oeuvre or a special drink. It was great to sample something from every restaurant." His group strolled the streets in between watering stops. "They have a lot of cherry trees and it’s beautiful to see them all in bloom."
This year’s cherry blossom offerings include The Sakura Esplanade — Japanese Roku gin, cherry blossom infused vermouth, and kirschwasser — unaged cherry brandy — with an edible cherry blossom garnish at Green Hill Kitchen & Que ($13; 48 Front St.; 631-477-4900) and a Cherry Gin Fizz — a cocktail of shimmering and changing colors that includes Luxardo cherries at Ellen’s on Front ($13; 38 Front St.; 631-333-2743).
But all is not booze; the East End Seaport and Marine Foundation (Third Street at the Ferry Dock; 631-477-2100) is selling a cherry blossom printed scarf ($18) and earrings ($24). Available at Kessie boutique and gift shop are palazzo pants with a cherry blossom motif ($24) and cherry blossom paper lanterns ($8).
For the sweet tooth, D’Latte Cafe has cherry blossom gelato ($10 a pint; 218 Main St.; 631-477-6738), while Special Effects Salon + Tea is offering Cherry Blossom Green Tea ($5 a pot; 455 Main St., 631-477-2265).
Late mayor Charles W. Hubbard Sr. began planting cherries in the '80s. "They started with one tree and it looked pretty, so they kept planting more," says his son, current mayor Charles W. Hubbard, Jr. "Now when you drive down the roads in spring, it’s all pink."
Greenport has been an Arbor Day Foundation Tree City USA community for 16 years and its Tree Committee keeps it that way with a $12,000 annual budget. Varietals include Kwanzan, Akame, Yoshino, Snow Goose and Sargent cherries.
The Petal Tour brings visitors in to see the trees, but also supports their care. "One of the great things about the businesses is that they recognize the work of the village and the Tree Committee," says committee member Polly Dixon. "They donate money and it helps keep the canopy alive and well."
For more information, contact AgroCouncil at Greenporter Hotel 326 Front St., Greenport, 631-500-0850.
MORE PARTICIPATING SPOTS
Here are some of the 25 businesses participating in the second Greenport Cherry Blossom Festival Petal Tour. For the full list, visit villageofgreenport.org.
Stirling Sake: 477 Main St.; 631-477-6782, stirlingsake.com
SpecialTea House: 455 Main St.; 631-477-2265, specialeffectssalonandtea.com
American Beech: 300 Main St.; 631-477-5939, americanbeech.com
Greenport Harbor Brewing Company: 234 Carpenter St.; 631-477-1100, greenportharborbrewing.com
Andy’s Restaurant: 34 Front St.; 631-333-2525, andysnofo.com
Creations By Lisa: 123 Main St.; 631-477-9612
Lucharitos: 119 Main St.; 631-477-6666, lucharitos.com.