Cherry Hill's blossom parade

Joe Zanghi on Cherry Hill's Chapel Avenue, where he's been planting cherry trees for 42 years. (Kevin Riordan / Staff)

Joe Zanghi eases his Lincoln Town Car onto Chapel Avenue, where pillowy clouds of cherry blossoms float along both sides of the busy thoroughfare.

"Morning, you drive west. Evening, you drive east," Zanghi, 79, advises, as we cruise through a particularly lush stretch around Kilmer School. "East gives you the better show iin the evening. The blossoms are orange-pink, because of the [setting] sun's rays."

Welcome to Cherry Hill's annual spring extravaganza, a two-mile parade of double-bloom Kwanzan cherry trees  the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society honored as a "Garden of Distinction" in 2014.

Zanghi and his supporters have been planting the trees for 42 years between Haddonfield Road and Kings Highway. In 2014, volunteers helped him put in 37 new trees; this year, eight more.

"I see where the empty spots are," Zanghi says, as we turn around near Haddonfield Road and head east. "I worry about these trees."

Donations help, but the retired data manager often pays for trees -- they can go for as much as $300 -- himself. He also pays for the American flags and yellow ribbon decorations, which he began placing along the avenue after 9/11.

"I'm trying to keep the beauty up," says Zanghi, a proud Girard College graduate who moved to the township in 1967. He was determined to create the sort of tight-knit togetherness he'd known in Southwest Philadelphia, envisioning a cherry tree-lined Chapel Avenue as an inspiration, a backdrop for an annual civic celebration that would connect distant suburban neighborhoods.

It didn't turn out that way, to Zanghi's everlasting chagrin. The last Cherry Blossom Parade marched in 1992; support from town hall has run hot and cold over the years, even as the trees have matured, merging in places into a continuous and glorious vista.

The avenue isn't finished, and may never be. "But it's beautiful, isn't it," Zanghi says.

It certainly is.