The city of Brookhaven will tentatively start planning its annual Cherry Blossom Festival after canceling it last March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Brookhaven City Council gave the green light to Patty Hansen, the director of strategic partnerships, to plan the event for 2021 during a July 28 work session.

The city has tentatively slated April 10 for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival’s 5K run and April 17 and 18 for the festival. The Cherry Blossom Festival is a two-day arts and music festival put on by the city that attracts tens of thousands of people and includes music performances and art and food vendors.

Crowds packed Blackburn Park during the 2019 Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival. (City of Brookhaven)

Hansen said the city staff would “plan light” and consider COVID-19 safety precautions as well.

The cherry blossoms will not be in bloom for the April dates, Hansen said, but the staff wanted to move it out a little later in the year because of concerns about the pandemic. The staff also wanted to avoid having the festival on Passover or Easter weekend.

“Hopefully we’re looking forward to a much nicer March and April than we had last year,” Hansen said.

Hansen proposed the festival could be March 20 and 21, which is when the cherry blossoms would be in bloom, but council decided the April dates would be a better option.

Councilmember Linley Jones originally preferred to have the festival on the March dates because she said a couple of weeks wouldn’t make much of a difference in the pandemic conditions but would make a difference for the blossoms. After some discussion, she agreed with other council members that the April dates would work.

Councilmember Joe Gebbia said it didn’t matter if the cherry blossoms were blooming at the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Hansen said the city usually starts signing up vendors for the festival in May but had postponed that process because of the uncertainty at the 2021 festival. She said any agreements moving forward would have contingencies in case pandemic conditions prevent the festival from happening.

“You’re making a lot of people very happy,” Hansen told the council after they directed her to start the plans.