WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The 2019 Azalea Festival kicks off next Wednesday, but another week-long event will kick off Monday: Wilmington Navy Week.
Created in 2005 as a community outreach program, the goal of Navy Week is to help Americans understand why having a strong navy is so important to our country.
“When we started this mission back in 2005, I think a Gallup polls surveyed respondents, and about seven percent said the Navy was important to national defense,” said Lieutenant Davis Anderson, lead planner for Wilmington Navy Week.
Lt. Anderson says 50-70 sailors will attend the Azalea Queen Crowning Ceremony, and march in the parade.
Mayor Bill Saffo says having both events at once will help boost the economy.
“It’s great to have all of these festivals this time of the year, and the city always looks forward to opening up its doors and welcoming everyone to our community and saying ‘Thank you,'” Saffo said.
“Anything involving the navy is certainly something I look forward to,” retired Navy Officer Wilbur Jones said.
Jones has been working for 11 years to have Wilmington designated a World War II Heritage City. He says between Battleship North Carolina and other Navy-related World War II attractions, Wilmington is perfect for Navy Week.
“During World War II, we had all five of the armed forces that were stationed here, I mean hoards of military personnel,” Jones said. “Wilmington is used to being very very military friendly.”
It seems that friendliness still exists in 2019.
“I have been to Wilmington twice now for site visits, kind of planning this Navy Week, and have really enjoyed it,” ,” Lt. Anderson said. “Everyone has been really really welcoming, and I’ve relayed that welcome to all the sailors I’ve been working with, so we’re all really excited to be there next week.”
President Trump signed a bill about two weeks ago that could designate Wilmington a World War II Heritage City, but specifics still need to be decided by the Secretary of the Interior.