The following good news comes from Keep Mobile Beautiful:
Keep Mobile Beautiful (KMB) will kick off the arrival of spring with a festival and website that celebrates the City’s beautiful azaleas. Mobile’s Azalea Trail Festival takes place March 12-29, at venues throughout the Mobile area. A new website, mobileazaleatrailfestival.com, highlights the numerous activities and festivities during the two and half week period when Mobile’s azaleas are expected to be in full bloom. Funding for the project was provided by Visit Mobile, Mobile Area Lodging Association and Mobile County. The goal is to attract more visitors to Mobile to enjoy the spectacle.
“When in bloom, Mobile’s Azalea Trail is something to be celebrated,” said Dianne Martin, president of Keep Mobile Beautiful. “Through the sale of Azalea Trail Bonds, Keep Mobile Beautiful has been promoting, preserving and protecting our historic Azalea Trail for future generations. It is our hope that the festival will attract visitors, as well as encourage more locals to plant azaleas, so Mobile will be ablaze with color every spring,” she continued.
The azalea is thought to have originated in China but Mobile’s long history with the bush can be traced back to 1754, when the first plants were said to have been brought from Toulouse, France by colonial horticulturalist Fifise Langlois. He brought three colors from his family’s garden, pink, purplish-red and white. The plants flourished in Mobile and drew visitors from both England and Spain during their respective rules over the City.
In 1928-29, the Mobile Junior Chamber of Commerce, now known as the Jaycees, launched a project to encourage the planting of the shrubs in yards and along the streets. Spearheaded by Sam Lackland and Marion Draughton, the Azalea Trail was chartered in 1933 and drew thousands of visitors who drove the 17 mile trail taking in its beauty. By 1940, the Trail was attracting 100,000 visitors. In 1972, Mobile began to paint a “pink line” to designate the Trail. The Azalea Trail Run began in 1978.
Eventually, the cost of painting the pink line became prohibitive. In 2015, Keep Mobile Beautiful and the Jaycees, developed new Trail signs that incorporate an Azalea Trail Maid in the design. The current Azalea Trail has three segments and covers some 38 miles. A map of the trail can be found on the website along with a master calendar of all spring activities. Visitors can enjoy self guided tours, guided tours and discounts at many area attractions and hotels. An opening ceremony will kick off the festivities March 12, highlighted by the painting of the cannon at the loop. To see the full schedule go to Mobileazaleatrailfestival.com.
Keep Mobile Beautiful, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, is a non-profit organization dedicated to keeping Mobile County clean, green and beautiful. For more information on this project and others, visit the website, keepmobilebeautiful.org.