Belles living through an Azalea Festival that wasn’t

A belle with no festival

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - This is the week, in Wilmington, that wasn’t. What should have been a week of Azalea Festival celebrations, the scheduled events had to take a virtual detour, thanks to COVID-19.

For the young ladies who’ve dreamed of being Azalea Belles, it’s been a tough few months.

“I’ve wanted this since I was six," said Taliah Kitt.

She’s picking up her dress, to document the year in family photos. It’s been heartbreaking, but Kitt’s got a stiff upper lip.

“I took a big blow," Kitt said. "It’s really kind of sad. My senior year has been rendered by this coronavirus, and everything that’s going on, but seeing the positive right now - that I’m still standing in this dress, I’m still smiling, and having the best time.”

“Here’s the Azalea Belle museum in my hallway," said Debbie Scheu, a local seamstress with decades of experience with the Azalea Belles and local theater. This year has been like no other.

“You feel sorry for the girls," Scheu explained. “But your heart breaks for those who are sick and dying. It will challenging for these young kids to put in perspective what’s going on in the entire world.”

“I tried on seven dresses,” said Elissa Hall as she went to pick up her dress with her mom. “I was just like, I can’t believe it. I couldn’t wrap my head around it because I’ve wanted to do this for so long”

So the memories for these young ladies will be different. When they’re grandmothers, these pictures will be up in the attic. Pictures of innocence, pictures of hope. The young ladies will have frozen smiles to document this day. But their hearts will tell a different story — a story they may one day share with future Azalea Belles.

“Right now, with the coronavirus, things may seem very dark, disturbing, and sad," Kitt said. “You have to keep smiling, knowing one day, things will get better.”

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