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Azaleas, Belles, and maybe a few Beers….Azalea Festival – Part 2

Crystal and I with Amrapali Ambegaokar

Crystal and I with Amrapali Ambegaokar

This is part 2 of a multi-part post of our trip to the Azalea Festival in Wilmington, NC.

Queen’s Coronation

Crystal and I had the opportunity to attend the Queen’s Coronation at the Azalea Festival in Wilmington, NC.
What is the Queen’s Coronation you may ask?

Each year, the Azalea Festival crowns an Azalea Queen. Generally, the queen is a celebrity with some type of relationship to the community. It’s a great opportunity for the city to welcome a celebrity and provide some recognition to them and the city as well. Past Azalea Queens include:

  • Phylicia Rashad
  • Robin Green
  • Kim Zimmer
  • Kelly Ripa
  • Joan Van Ark (yes, THE Joan Van Ark from Knots’ Landing)
  • Shelly Fabares

This year’s coronation was a great combination of cultures. From a movie perspective I can only describe the coronation as a cool combination of Slumdog Millionaire meets Steel Magnolias. This year’s queen was Amrapali Ambefaokar. I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with her. She is a warm and genuine person. She represented the Azalea Festival with grace, style and a truly welcoming personality.

Her notable accomplishments include:

  • Silver winner in the solo competition of ‘Superstars of Dance’
  • Performing as ‘Oceane-Goddess of Water” with Cirque du Soleil for over 2 years
  • Appearances on The Tonight Show and The Today Show
  • Recognized as one of the top Kathak dancers
  • Guest starring roles on Heroes, Grey’s Anatomy, Boston Legal, ER, and Alias
  • Film choreographer
  • Miss Asian America, Miss India USA and Miss India North America

Let me see if I can ‘set the stage’…The Queen and her court arrive and are welcomed. You’re in a classic southern ballroom (this year the crowning was inside due to bad weather) with a paddle wheel riverboat sitting outside. You’re surrounded by all the Azalea belles in their hoop-skirted dresses. The master of ceremonies is decked out in pink seersucker. The Queen is presented with her crown and some gifts. Various community leaders speak and congratulate the queen. The members of her court speak and are recognized. This year, to celebrate Amrapali’s Indian heritage, the Indian community in Wilmington participated in the coronation by providing traditional Indian dance and music. The celebration of her Indian heritage combined with the southern traditions made for a great and touching coronation.





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