Every year a member of the Congressional Delegation chooses who will represent Alaska as Cherry Blossom Princess, and this year Congressman Don Young selected Kim VanWyhe.
Kim, daughter of Eileen and Leon VanWyhe, grew up in Fairbanks. Kim currently attends St. John’s University in New York where she is persuing a Bachelor of the Arts in Government and Politics. At a young age, Kim was active in political campaigns, and now at age 20, she considers them one of her hobbies.
"My wife and I are pleased to nominate Kim. Alaska is unique in that our commerce, history and culture have long been influenced by Japan. We are pleased that Kim, who is eager to learn about Alaska’s government functions, will represent Alaska at the Cherry Blossom Festival," said Congressman Young.
In 1918, the wives of William Howard Taft and the Japanese Ambassador planted the first cherry blossom trees in what was then the swampy tidal basin along the Potomac River. Each spring, these trees, now 88 years old, bloom along with the plethora of cherry blossoms that have since been planted there.
After World War II, the Cherry Blossom Festival began to celebrate a new era of peaceful relations between Japan and the United States and drew 1918 efforts to beautify Washington, DC. Today, one young woman from every state is selected to join with a young woman from Japan to celebrate American-Japanese diplomacy.
The Cherry Blossom Festival will take place April 2-9, 2006, in Washington, DC.