NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - You can't miss the Azalea queen's motorcade as it makes its way through Wilmington this week, but you might miss any mention of how much it costs.
The motorcycles, cruisers, and law enforcement officers are traditionally provided to the Azalea Festival free of charge by the Wilmington Police Department and the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office.
"We put that in my budget every year, and I'm actually glad to be a part of it," said Sheriff Ed McMahon.
That's despite the fact that McMahon was just asked by New Hanover County commissioners to cut his 2011 budget by $1 million because of the massive shortfall the county is facing in these tough economic times.
"There's maybe about 100 hours of overtime involved [for the motorcade], which is roughly around $3000--maybe a little less. I think that, for me, that's a small figure, a small amount for us to pay for what [the Azalea Festival] brings into the community," said McMahon.
Still, the money spent on pomp and circumstance is enough to anger some residents. WECT asked for feedback on Facebook.
"Didn't they just say they had to make cuts in the budget? That could be a good place to start," said Judy.
"Way too much overkill on this TIGHT budget!!" said Suzanne.
But not everyone feels that way.
"The Azalea Festival is advertised nationwide. It brings tons of money and people to our city. I think we definitely need to make the Queen's arrival a BIG DEAL!!! Show some love, people!!" said Kelly.
With eight motorcycles and half a dozen sheriff and police cruisers, the Azalea queen is definitely getting some love. Whether it's worth the price...you're the tax payer. You decide.