The Azalea Trail Maids are 50 girls who are chosen as official ambassadors of the city of Mobile, Alabama. They are famous for the large and colorful clothes they wear.
History of the organization
In 1929, the Junior Mobile Chamber of Commerce, now known as Mobile Jaycees, installs the Azalea Trail throughout the city. As part of this they urged citizens to plant azaleas on their yards to expand the idea beyond city ownership. The project was the idea of mobile resident and horticulturist Sam Lackland, who talked about it on his way home from a trip to nearby Charleston, South Carolina. It wasn’t long before Mobile earned the nicknamed Azalea City.
In 1935, the first domestic court was held. Every spring the official opening of the Azalea Trail was made by a handful of local beginners and by the city’s Mardi Gras. The first Azalea Trail Queen was to be selected the New York City dancer Marion Bancroft Marshall (? -2000), who served in 1939. With 1949, the first Azalea Trail court was created, creating the Azalea Trail Maids that Mobile he knows today.
Two years later the Azalea Trail Festival was established. For several years in the 1950s, the injured Miss America was the queen of the court, in particular Yolande Betbeze (1928-2016). Eventually, the organization became very popular, so much so that every chapter of Jaycee in Alabama and a couple of neighboring states had a representative in the group. Over time, bringing the whole court together has proved a daunting task.
In 1965, the perpetrators decided that only the 50 representatives, who had to be senior citizens in the Mobile County High Schools, could apply to be Azalea Trail Maids. For girls outside of Mobile County, America’s Junior Miss was established (now known as Distinguished Young Women). Today, Mobile Jaycees still serve as sponsors of the Azalea Trail Maid program.
The selection process
To apply to try to join the selective organization, you must be in their last year of high school and live in the mobile county. Candidates interview for the first time in high school and from there each school can send a number of representatives based on the student population. The Azalea Trail organization then narrows the field of perspectives up to 100 and are interviewed for the last time at the beginning of December by three chosen judges outside the city.
During the final interview process, candidates can expect to receive a series of questions about the history and landmarks of Mobile County. Questions are also asked about a range of topics, from personality questions to current national events. The girls will also be evaluated on other merits such as their academic success, activity in school clubs and other volunteer work within the community. These judges then choose the 50 final girls who will become the Azalea Maid Trail.
The selected girls will then be notified soon by mail. Shortly thereafter, the annual coronation ceremony of that year’s Azalea Trail Court is held, in which the queen and her first and second waiting woman are officially revealed. Their selection is based on a combination of the judge’s scores with the school score (GPA and ACT score), with the girl with the highest score becoming the Azalea Trail Queen.
In addition to the honor of being chosen, the queen also receives a full scholarship from Auburn University. The following months are then used by the girls to design their clothes and pass several checks, with the newly elected court beginning their one-year reign in May.
Trail Maids equipment
The most obvious and distinctive part of Azalea Trail Maids is their clothing, which they have been wearing since 1950. Forty-nine of the girls are randomly assigned to one of the following colors: blue, green, lavender, peach or yellow. The Trail Queen has the honor of being the only one wearing pink. The five main colors are designed to represent the spring in which Azalea flowers found everywhere on Mobile begin to bloom. Each girl is placed in an apparition group composed of five members, a girl for each color.
The look of the clothes is inspired by the clothes of the antebellum era and releases the classic look of beautiful southerners. They also have an extravagant amount of frills and ruffles, which are meant to symbolize the azalea flowers that bloom every spring. Each dress is tailor-made for each girl, each of which costs a few thousand dollars between paying an Azalea Trail assessment fee and the price paid by the tailor.
The entire ensemble consists of 10 different pieces: the current dress, a circle skirt, pants, fingerless gloves, square-tinted shoes, a hat, a band, a band with a bow, a brassiere a parasol. When the entire outfit is assembled, it can weigh between 40 and 50.
They also receive a cloak lined with fake fur, which is used in cold weather. The long trouser pockets are generally the most personalized part of the outfit, as they are often adorned with a girl’s initials, an inspirational quote or some kind of design.
The Azalea Trail Maids serve as “Official Ambassadors” for the city of Mobile, Alabama, at numerous local and national public events to advance tourism to the city and show local hospitality. They are expected to greet visitors to the city and are well informed in providing information on the history and landmarks of Mobile. They are also designed to personify the ideals of southern hospitality.
They have made appearances at numerous local and state events, such as the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, the Dollar General Bowl, the Senior Bowl, the annual Veteran’s Day Parade of Mobile, the inauguration of Governor Robert Bentley and more. Usually the group makes at least one weekly appearance somewhere, usually in the city of Mobile.
On a national scale, they took part in events such as the Chicago Thanksgiving Day parade, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, the Pasadena Rose Bowl Parade, the Indianapolis 500, the Cherry Blossom Festival and more. They also took part in the inauguration of President Barack Obama 2009 and greeted then-elected President Donald Trump when he stopped in Mobile during his “Thank You Tour” in December 2016. Their most important national event is their appearance annual at the annual Easter Parade at Disney World.