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New Jersey Town Rivals Washington D.C. With Impressive Cherry Blossom Bloom

BELLEVILLE TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Talk about a good old fashioned blossom battle.

When people think about cherry blossoms, they naturally will think of Washington D.C.

But you don't need to head down I-95 to find the very best blossom bloom this spring.

Just head to Belleville, New Jersey -- right on the border of Newark.

"People come from all over to see these cherry blossoms," one woman told CBS2's Scott Rapoport.

Right in Essex County -- far away from inside the Beltway -- you'll find a burgeoning bumper crop of cherry trees. There are over 4,000 in Branch Brook Park alone, either in bloom or about to bloom.

"It's just like something out of a painting," Belleville historian Michael Perrone says. "It's a living painting. That's how I'd describe it."

Perrone says throughout the town you can find almost 8,000 cherry blossom trees -- more than double the 3,700 that grace the streets of our nation's capital.

According to Perrone, the numbers simply don't lie.

"There's no question that Belleville is the cherry blossom capital of America," he said.

Perrone says the town's cherry blossom bonanza began in 1927, when 2,000 were first planted as a gift from Caroline Bamberger -- one of the founders of the once famous Bamberger's department store.

Since then, more and more have been planted. In turn, the town's collection has grown and grown.

"There's just a feeling of calmness when you see them," one woman said.

The famed blossoms are featured on the township's seal, flags, and even the police patches of Belleville's finest.

"It's something we're proud of," Police Chief Mark Minichini tells CBS2. "We want to show it to the world."

It's a source of inspiration to both those who live in the town, and those who come from far and wide to visit what's known around the area as the "Cherry Blossom Capital of America."

If you plan on seeing the blossoms in bloom, Perrone says some trees in the park and most trees in the town will be blooming later this week or next.

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