The string of 2019 tornadoes that devastated the Dayton Region also left a lasting impact on a number of parks and green spaces. Perhaps no area was more affected than Sinclair Park in Harrison Township. What was once a lush public park with abundant mature trees was left almost entirely barren. On November 5th 2023, a team of Operation 2000 Cherry Tree volunteers gathered to begin the slow process of revitalization so that this park will become the place for the citizens of this community to go for comfort and renewal. We hope that our 10 new cherry trees begin a new era of healing for all of those who were affected.
Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 14th Intelligence Squadron (14 IS) contributed to Operation 2000 Cherry Trees through collaboration with the unit’s Honorary Commander, Mr. Michael Roediger, the Director and Chief Executive Officer for the Dayton Art Institute (DAI). The 45 men and women of the 14 IS devoted an afternoon on May 4th in support of the project and the DAI by planting and landscaping trees. Read the entire article from Air Force Reserve Command here!
Operation 2000 Cherry Trees continued its mission in 2022, enriching both the quality of life in Dayton and friendship between Japan and the US in our region. Photos from 2022 demonstrate our continued contribution in some of the most high-visibility areas of the Dayton region.
April 2022 – Carillon Park
Cherry blossoms in bloom brighten the landscape of Dayton’s 65-acre park and museum.
October 2022 – National Museum of the US Air Force
As our trees grow, Operation 2000 Cherry Trees continues to have a substantial presence at Dayton’s world class international attraction.
October 2022 – Carillon Park
Operation 2000 Cherry Trees volunteers planted 26 new cherry trees at the park in the autumn, adding a burst of new color to the landscape. Now we have 83 cherry trees in this park.
With the roots of Operation 2000 Cherry Trees now firmly established in the Dayton Region, 2021 was a year for our organization to blossom and flourish. Plantings continued steadily across our local communities, not only beautifying our outdoor spaces, but also deepening Japanese-American friendship.
Commemorating the Great Earthquake
Operation 1000 Cherry Trees was established as a “thank-you” gesture from the citizens of Japan to the citizens of the United States for America’s aid and support after a devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2001.
On March 11, 2021, Operation 2000 Cherry Trees Chair Alex Hara and a host of local dignitaries commemorated the 10 year anniversary of the great earthquake. Cherry trees were planted at three locations including Carillon Park, Dayton Art Institute and the City Hall in the City of Fairborn. This prompted the City of Fairborn to plant an additional 215 cherry trees along Kauffman Avenue, replacing the aging crab apple trees.
Celebrating 100 Years of the Dayton Art Institute
Later in the fall, as a part of the Dayton Art Institute’s 100-year anniversary renovation project, we planted a total of 40 cherry trees along DAI property and nearby streets. Twelve cherry trees were planted at the front of the magnificently renovated DAI building along Riverview Street and at the side along Forest Avenue. In addition, we provided 28 trees, which the City of Dayton planted along Great Miami Boulevard and Edwin Moses Boulevard.
Growing Trees – and Awareness – in the Dayton Region
With our 2021 plantings, the Dayton Art Institute now has a total of 32 cherry trees within their property. In addition, 10 trees were planted across Riverview Street on the Miami Valley Conservancy District property and 10 more at the adjacent Masonic Temple.
Operation 2000 Cherry Trees also planted a total of 42 trees at Carillon Park and plans to plant 40 more along the miniature railroad inside the park in 2022. To connect these two points, we have planted 100 cherry trees along Edwin Moses Boulevard, crossing Stewart Street Bridge and onto South Patterson Boulevard.
Ultimately, we plan to call this corridor the Cherry Blossom Trail of Dayton, so the legacy of Operation 2000 Cherry Trees will continue well into future generations.
On Thursday, March 11, the Honorable Tsutomu Nakagawa, Consul General of Japan, joined local officials to launch the “Operation 2000 Cherry Tree Project.” The project, originally the “Operation 1000 Cherry Tree Project,” started in 2012. After exceeding the goal of planting 1,000 cherry trees across the Dayton region, the project was extended, and the kickoff was held on the 10-year anniversary of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.
The project was developed by Alex Hara, a Japanese-born businessman living in Dayton. Hara was inspired to initiate the project after seeing the devastation to his homeland in March, 2011, following the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami that claimed nearly 16,000 lives and left more than 2,500 missing. Hara’s inspiration came when he saw the quick response of the U.S. military and willingness of American people to donate money, products, and time to Japan.
“The cherry blossom means so much to Japan and represents the heart of the Japanese people,” Hara said. “There is no better way to express our gratitude than with a cherry tree.”
The goal of the “Operation 2000 Cherry Tree Project” is to plant an additional 1,000 cherry trees in the Dayton area as a symbol of Japan’s deep gratitude for the overwhelming support of the American people throughout this disaster. It is also a commemorative celebration of Japan’s gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the United States in 1912 as a symbol of their then-growing friendship.
“I am happy to witness firsthand the progress of the Operation 2000 Cherry Tree Project,” said Nakagawa. “The success of its predecessor project is a testament to the enduring friendship that the people of Dayton and Japan have grown together over many years.”
“Montgomery County is proud to be part of Operation 2000 Cherry Trees,” said Montgomery County Commission President Judy Dodge. “With this addition of 1,000 more cherry trees, the people of our entire region will see this as a mark of friendship and shared future.”
Ceremonial cherry tree plantings were held at Carillon Historical Park, Dayton Art Institute, and the City of Fairborn’s Government Center. Hara and the project committee will be organizing plantings across the area until they’ve planted 2,000.
Tax-deductible donations are being accepted by the Dayton Foundation through the Operation 2000 Cherry Tree’s website. Click here to donate.
Organization also announces several leadership changes
May 30, 2020. Nine years ago, Japanese-born bank executive, N. Alex Hara had a dream to plant 1,000 cherry blossom trees throughout the Dayton, OH area. It was Hara’s way of showing gratitude to his adopted homeland for its role in the recovery mission following a massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011. Thus, Operation 1000 Cherry Tree Project was born.
In October of 2017, the organization achieved its mission with its 1,000th tree. They immediately went on to launch the Operation 2000 Cherry Tree Project. Today, the foundation is well on its way to the 2,000 goal and has added an even loftier ambition. Hara’s organization is committed to creating the “Cherry Blossom Trail of Dayton” which will serve as an ever-lasting symbol of community and Japanese-American friendship.
The Trail, which has already broken ground, begins at the Dayton Art Institute, follows south along West Riverview Avenue and Edwin C. Moses Boulevard, crosses the Stewart Street bridge and will culminate at Carillon Historical Park.
“It’s an ambitious project,” admits Hara. “But I’m confident with the generosity and tenacity of the friends and supporters of our city, Dayton will one day become the cherry blossom capital of the Midwest.”
Along with the organization’s expanded vision, it has also added two new members to the Project’s Committee. Phil Parker, President and CEO of the Dayton Chamber of Commerce, and John L. Woods, writer and Miamisburg civic advocate have joined the organization as committee members. We’d like to thank retiring members Maurice McDonald, Verity Snyder, and Stephen Lake who have guided and served the Project tirelessly throughout their tenure.
Operation 1000 Cherry Tree founder Alex Hara was featured as “Someone You Should Know” in a recent newscast on Fox 45 News in Dayton. Listen to his story about the inception of the idea for Operation 1000 Cherry Trees and his ambitious plans for the future of the organization here.
After having planted 999 cherry trees in and around the Dayton area over the last five years, Operation 1000 Cherry Trees inviting our supporters to Carillon Historical Park on Thursday, October 19th to celebrate reaching the project’s first goal and announce the next steps for the initiative. This month, we have announced plans to extend our goal and plant an additional 1,000 Japanese cherry trees in the Dayton area.
Prominent community leaders spoke at the event, including the Consulate General of Japan in Detroit Mitsuhiro Wada; Former Ohio Governor Bob Taft; Montgomery County Commissioners Dan Foley, Judy Dodge and Debbie Lieberman; Dayton Power & Light President and CEO Tom Raga; and Dayton History President and CEO Brady Kress. The event culminated with two ceremonial cherry tree plantings: one to mark the 1,000th tree goal and another to launch the beginning of the next 1,000 cherry trees.
“Beginning with the next 1,000 cherry trees, the goal has gradually transformed into a community-wide beautification initiative as a side effect of the physical expression of gratitude of the Japanese people,” founder Alex Hara said.
“DP&L welcomed the opportunity to partner with the Operation 1000 Cherry Tree Project in beautifying the Dayton landscape and adding to the tree canopy with the same utility-friendly Japanese cherry trees that line the streets of our nation’s capital,” said Tom Raga, president and CEO of DP&L. “It is our pleasure to sponsor the trees that now connect two historic Dayton landmarks, the Dayton Art Institute and Carillon Historical Park.
“Part of this project is building an even stronger relationship between Japan and Ohio. We have over 500 Japanese-owned companies in the state of Ohio, some of them have contributed to this project and it’s an important part of our economy and our culture in Ohio,” said Former Ohio Governor Bob Taft in a Miami Valley Voices interview. Former Governor Taft is the project’s honorary chairman.
As Hara reflects on reaching the Operation 1000 Cherry Tree Project’s first goal, he extends gratitude to the many supporters of the project across the Dayton community.
“My appreciation goes to the organizations, local government, Japanese companies, American companies, and individuals who have provided funding and support for this project,” Hara said. “It’s the first step of another 1,000-tree journey. Before you know it, there will be cherry blossoms all over Dayton, as a symbol of gratitude and a tradition of our community.”
Finally, we contributed 70 cherry trees that were planted at the interchange of Interstates 70 and 75. This most traveled crossroad of America will be decorated with cherry blossoms in the coming spring and every spring thereafter.
In the fall, we finally planted 20 cherry trees at Dayton Art Institute. This nearly 100-year-old landmark of the Dayton community is fresh off a makeover, and we were very excited about adding the cherry trees to their remodeling project. Thanks to Executive Director Michael Roediger for allowing us to be a part of their long-awaited renovation project, and thanks to Terrence Horan for providing the fund.