On Sunday, May 17 at 1 p.m., St. Joseph’s Parish on Old Mission Peninsula will host the Blessing of the Blossoms service, the origin of the National Cherry Festival, with a community of church leaders.
This years’ service will be live-streamed online at stjosephtc.org. Enjoy live musical performances, readings and blessing of this year’s crops, all with the hope of offering the renewal of budding blossoms and a revival of spirits during difficult times. Music performances by Mike Norton, singing “The Impossible Dream” as performed in 1978 at the Old Town Playhouse. Church leaders will include: Reverend Peter Shumar, Pastor, Old Mission Congregational Church; Pastor Zelpia Moblay of the United Methodist Church, Old Mission; Dr. Hogue of the First Congregational Church and Father Rexroat, St. Joseph’s Old Mission.
Viewers may drive up to Chateau Chantal winery on Old Mission Peninsula between 1:30–3 p.m. on May 17 for complimentary Sara Lee cherry pie slices offered curb-side by PPE protected volunteers, while supplies last.
In 1910, residents on Old Mission Peninsula created the “blessing of the blossoms” ceremony to pray for a good cherry crop. Over the years more orchards were planted and the ceremony grew as cherries became more important to the region’s economy. In 1925, cherry growers partnered with Traverse City merchants to create the “Blessing of the Blossoms Festival” to promote the region and the cherry business.
For a number of years, the Freidrich Tower (across from what is now Chateau Grand Traverse) was the ceremony site. Mr. Friedrich built the observation tower, dressed it with garlands and sought to wed tourism and faith in the blessing ceremony. The location moved to Center Road and Old Mission on occasion, and on to Bowers Harbor Park where the temptation to float blossoms on the water proved irresistible.
In 1928, the Blessing of the Blossoms was renamed the Michigan Cherry Festival which shortly evolved into the National Cherry Festival.