N.C. Azalea Festival queen to be crowned today

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N.C. Azalea Festival queen Mallory Hagan, left, arrives at the Wilmington Hilton Riverside with festival president Liz Carroll. Photos by Hilary Snow.
N.C. Azalea Festival queen Mallory Hagan, left, arrives at the Wilmington Hilton Riverside with festival president Liz Carroll. Photos by Hilary Snow.

When the 68th annual N.C. Azalea Festival queen is coronated today, she’ll have some help from the first woman to wear the crown.

Jacqueline White, 92, will be on hand to assist in the coronation ceremony of this year’s royalty, Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan. That ceremony is set for 3 p.m. on the lawn of the Wilmington Convention Center, 515 Nutt St.

White–a former actress who starred alongside the likes of Robert Mitchum and Ethel Barrymore–was the inaugural queen of the Azalea Festival in 1948.

Hagan was greeted by a bevvy of Azalea Belles, who will also make appearances with Hagan throughout the week.
Hagan was greeted by a bevvy of Azalea Belles, who will also make appearances with Hagan throughout the week.

She’ll join other festival celebrities, city officials and the Azalea Belles at the ceremony to officially kick off this year’s festivities.

Hagan made her grand entrance into the Port City on Tuesday, ahead of her crowning and a busy week of appearances, including the festival parade, throughout the week. She said she actually arrived in Wilmington a few days ago to get to know the area and enjoy some local restaurants and businesses.

Outside the Wilmington Hilton Riverside on Tuesday, Hagan said she is particularly looking forward to visiting with students at Forest Hills Global Elementary School Thursday.

“But I have to say getting to see Nelly in concert is pretty rocking, and who is ever going to be mad about seeing Alan Jackson while you’re in the South?” she added.

Since her reign as Miss America, Hagan has continued to work as an advocate of education in regard to child sexual abuse.

During her time as Miss America, she was named an Influential Woman at the 2013 Forbes Women’s Summit. She has appeared on “Good Morning America,” “The View,” “Wendy Williams” and “Anderson Cooper.”

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6341 or hilary.s@hometownwilmington.com.