Two foreign exchange students take part in Azalea Festival tradition

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Azalea Festival events are underway. A big part of the festival are the young ladies you see dressed in old fashion outfits: The Cape Fear Garden Club Azalea Belles.

“I was like, oh, my goodness. I’m really going to be an Azalea Belle,” Emma Lovring said.

As a high school junior and senior in the Cape Fear, it’s an achievement to become an Azalea Belle.

“I had no idea where Wilmington was or how it would be,” Julia Pellikka said.

Pellikka is from Finland, but she is spending her senior year at Laney High School.

She learned about the festival and the importance of it through her host family.

“I started to look things up and I became very interested about it and I was just thinking ‘Wow that would be so awesome to get involved with the culture that much,’” Pellikka said.

She is not the only foreign exchange belle this year. Lovring is also one of the selected few. She is from Denmark and is a junior at North Brunswick High School this year.

“I think it’s really interesting to come here because while I’m learning about your history, the American history, I’m also learning a lot about the people here today,” Lovring said.

Wearing 1860s inspired dresses, Pellikka and Lovring say the dress fits them like it was just made for them.

“I feel like a princess,” Pellikka said.

“I’ve never worn anything like this before,” Lovring said.

Pellikka says she’s most excited about the art contest, “because I love being with kids, and I was so happy to be chosen to be a part of that.”

They both agree with their limited time in the Port City, they just want to make the best of it.

“All of the people who talked about going to America for exchange told me to say yes to everything and do as much as possible otherwise you’ll regret it,” Lovring said.

Through this experience, they are truly living and being a part of the Cape Fear culture.

“I want to take as much as possible in and be involved as much as possible and actually live here,” Pellikka said.

Pellikka and Lovring have been living in the Wilmington area since last summer. They plan to leave in June.

Categories: Community, Local, New Hanover

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