U.S. Department of the InteriorDOI News Header
Office of the Secretary
April 6, 2007
NPS: Bill Line/Terry Adams/Toni Braxton
202-619-7400 Interior: Joan Moody, 202-208-3280


Secretary Kempthorne To Join Japanese Ambassador
At Lighting of Stone Lantern during Cherry Blossom Festival

WASHINGTON--Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne will join His Excellency, Ryozo Kato, Ambassador of Japan, and other dignitaries at the stone lantern lighting ceremony at the Tidal Basin on April 8, 2007. Held on National Park Service land every year since 1954, the lantern lighting ceremony is part of the Cherry Blossom Festival that celebrates U.S. friendship with Japan.

An honored special guest will be Mrs. Yukika Sohma, 95, daughter of the late Mayor Yukiko Ozaki of Tokyo who organized the original gift of 3,000 cherry trees to Washington, D.C. in 1912.

The Japanese Stone Lantern was carved 356 years ago and was first lit in 1651 to honor the Third Shogun of the Tokugawa period. The National Park Service and the National Conference of State Societies have jointly sponsored this annual Japanese Stone Lantern Lighting Ceremony since 1954 when it was presented to the city of Washington, D.C.

Who: The Honorable Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary, Department of the Interior
--His Excellency Ryozo Kato, Japanese Ambassador to the United States
-- Mrs. Yukika Sohma, special guest
--Joseph M. Lawler, Regional Director, National Park Service, NCR,
-- Egils Milbergs, Illinois State Society of Washington, D.C.,
--Tim Schlack, President, National Conference of States Societies,
-- Sue Porter, President, National Cherry Blossom Festival, Inc.,
-- Dr. Stephanie Scott, Secretary, District of Columbia, and
--Phil Mendelsohn, D.C. City Council Member.
What: Traditional stone lantern lighting ceremony of the National Cherry Blossom Festival
When: 2:30 entertainment
3:00 p.m.: Ceremony begins with Color Guard and national anthems of Japan and United States and remarks by various speakers
3:30 p,m: Remarks by Secretary Kempthorne and Ambassador Royzo Kato
3:45 p.m.: Conclusion of ceremony and photo op at the lantern

Stone Lantern on Tidal Basin located on west end of Kutz Bridge near the intersection of 17th and Independence Avenue, SW and opposite side of bridge—west of the Paddle Boat Dock

News camera riser and MULT box provided by National Park Service
There is no parking for news vehicles anywhere on Independence Avenue. Parking is available for microwave or satellite trucks only, along the south curb of the West Basin Drive. West Basin Drive is accessed from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial parking area, which is accessed from Ohio Drive, S.W., south of the Lincoln Memorial.

In the event of severe weather the ceremony will take place at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial’s (WIMSA) auditorium. The Memorial is located at the ceremonial entrance to Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia, (across Memorial Bridge from the Lincoln Memorial). A final decision will be made by 12:30 p.m. Sunday, April 8 on the event’s location.

— DOI —