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Cherry Blossom Festival to expand for centennial

WASHINGTON — Organizers of the National Cherry Blossom Festival are expanding the festivities next year to five weeks, and first lady Michelle Obama will serve as honorary chair of the event marking the 100th anniversary of the gift of trees from Japan.

To mark the anniversary, the U.S. Postal Service has created a cherry blossom centennial stamp that will be issued in March 2012.

Plans for the 2012 festival call for art and history exhibits across the city and the planting of more than 1,000 new cherry trees. Officials behind the springtime event announced plans for the centennial celebration Wednesday. The 16-day festival will be expanded to five weeks beginning March 20.

Officials also are planning a “City in Bloom” campaign for businesses to join the festival with their decorations and lighting.