Each year about 300,000 people fill the streets of downtown Wilmington for the Azalea Festival. This year they'll be joined by construction cones and road work.
Construction workers and Azalea Bells might seem like an odd mix, but festival organizers say they've had plenty of time to adjust for this year's event. Next year could be another story.
The City of Wilmington is working on a beautification project to make the downtown streets look a little more like the Azalea Bells, but the work won't be done in time for the festival, which is just a few weeks away. Still organizers say they've known about the construction since they started planning almost a year ago, and they're prepared for the bumpy road ahead.
"Volunteers are in close contact and have been with the City of Wilmington," Azalea Festival president Erica Mearns said. "We met as early as last summer regarding these changes, so they have plans well underway and are adjusting appropriately."
This year Street Fair vendors will move a few blocks north on Front Street away from the construction. The parade route, which travels primarily along 3rd Street, won't need to change for now. Next year the city will begin work along the main route of the parade.
Organizers say the main concern this year will be traffic around downtown. They say they've spoken with the police department and sheriff's office, who will help visitors navigate through the construction.