The Santa Clara Koi Club celebrates 36th annual Cherry Blossom Festival

The club shares their involvement with the festival since 2000

Dhruvika Randad and Elena Khan

On the weekend of April 27 and 28 at Memorial Park, the city of Cupertino held its annual Cherry Blossom Festival which celebrates Japanese culture and heritage through a variety of traditional activities and performances. A wide range of booths and vendors were set up at the festival each day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. One specific booth, the Santa Clara Koi and Water Garden Club, has engaged with the festival annually for nearly two decades. The club set up an interactive showcase of Japanese Koi fish to raise awareness on the fish and its significance in Japanese culture. Run by MVHS alumnus of the class of 1984, business owner Eve Bretzke and her husband started their family-run business nearly 30 years ago, driven by their shared love for Japanese culture and Koi fish.

The club brought out their showcase of Japanese Koi, this time a group of summer-rescue fish they had saved from the fires in 2018. There was also a wheel-of-fortune allowing people to identify different types of Koi fish, with their Koi identification poster, and provide prizes for everyone who could guess them correctly.

“They represent friendship and love in Japanese culture,” Bretzke said. “[The city of Cupertino] likes to promote Japanese heritage and culture here in our area, they enjoy us bringing out the live fish. It’s a preservation of the heritage — [Japanese] never forget that.”

Club member Sue, originally from Japan, has been part of the Santa Clara Koi Club for five years and the San Francisco Bay Area Koi Club for over 20 years. For her, the festival feels complete with children who are provided the opportunity to actively participate in cultural activities within a diverse community. Having attended Koi shows in other places, she finds that the general atmosphere of the festival can change positively with children around.

“I notice that this is one of the few Cherry [Blossom] festivals that involves so many children,” Sue said. “[The festival] caters for the children [and] I can’t think of a festival without the children, especially the Cherry Blossom festival.”