RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - A bill to make the Azalea Festival North Carolina's official spring celebration has moved forward in the General Assembly.
House Bill 992, introduced by Rep. Ted Davis (R-New Hanover), received a unanimous favorable report Wednesday from lawmakers in the House, State and Local Government II committee. It now moves to the House Appropriations Committee for discussion.
The bill is entitled "An act adopting the North Carolina Azalea Festival as the official celebration of spring in the state of North Carolina."
Davis' bill would also allocate $10,000 from the state's general fund to help promote the festival. The bill, if enacted, would become law on July 1.
The Azalea Festival began in 1948 as an idea by local physician Dr. W. Houston Moore who wanted to showcase the beauty of Airlie Gardens, Orton Gardens, and Greenfield Gardens.
Since its modest beginning, the Azalea Festival has become one of the largest celebrations of its kind in the state, bringing in thousands of people annually thanks to street fairs, concerts from nationally known musical acts, fireworks, and a parade.
The festival has a $50 million economic impact on the Wilmington area, according to a study by UNCW in 2011.