Azalea Festival bill clears NC House with new language

Azalea Festival bill clears NC House with new language

RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - Lawmakers in Raleigh have changed the language inside a bill originally designed to proclaim the North Carolina Azalea Festival as the official celebration of spring in the state.

An amendment approved Thursday included the substitution. The amended bill, which went on to pass by a vote of 104-1, now makes the "Azalea Festival in Wilmington the official azalea festival in the state of North Carolina".

House Bill 992, introduced by Rep. Ted Davis (R-New Hanover), also allocates $10,000 from the state's general fund to promote the festival. It now moves to the state Senate for approval. Rep. Davis said afterward he is not disappointed in the language change, saying he had originally planned to introduce the bill in that fashion.

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.

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