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Lilac Fest: Will the lilacs bloom in time?

Rochester, N.Y. - The Lilac Festival is just over a month away. It's a spring tradition drawing hundreds of thousands to Highland Park in Rochester. Buds on the lilac bushes are just starting to come out, but it's still too early to tell if the lilacs will peak for the festival like they did last year.

After a harsh winter, Superintendent of Horticulture for Monroe County Parks Mark Quinn said the plants are doing well. Lilacs like the cold and can survive in climates colder than Rochester.

But the plants still need a few key things to happen to make sure they're blooming for the start of the festival on May 9.

"The warmer temperatures we can get the better off we are," explained Quinn. "At this point I don't see these things coming in earlier this year, this year I would like to see some warm temperatures just to get them moving a long so they're on time for the festival."

Ideally Quinn said we would get a handful of days in the 70s and 80s to help the lilacs bloom on time.

During the 10 day event 500,000 people enter Highland Park to kick off Spring.

"We like to look at this not only as the largest and longest running festival in our community, but also be the safest festival," said Director of Monroe County Parks Larry Staub.

Attracting people from all over the world, the lilac festival will see some changes in security this year.

"It was an important next step that's been coming for a few years," said Festival Producer Jeff Springut.

Fencing will be put up this year to define the entertainment area: there will be five separate entrances into the festival, manned by security.

"Adding the fence will increase public safety," said Staub. "It will enhance that visitor experience, last year we had some incidences that were basically outside of the festival area, we want to make sure that doesn't get inside the festival area."

The extra security will check bags, I.D.s for alcohol, and enforce the no pet policy.

"We want to make sure that when we have this 10 day festival that we can assure the community that when you come down there it's going to be family friendly," explained Staub, "It's going to be appropriate for people of all ages; you can bring your kids down and feel safe."

The festival runs from May 9 through May 18.

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Washington Times