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What year was Ronald Reagan grand marshal of the Azalea Festival?

Jim Ware
Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan at the N.C. Azalea Festival in 1959 or 1960.

Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States from 1981 to 1989, served as emcee of the N.C. Azalea Festival at Wilmington in 1959. At the time, Reagan was an actor, having starred in such films as 1942’s “Kings Row.”

Also in 1959, Debra Paget (of the movies “The Ten Commandments” and “Love Me Tender”) was queen.

Reagan returned to the festival in 1960, the year Merv Griffin was emcee. Andy Griffith and British actor Charles Laughton also were on the bill that year. Charlie Daniels performed at played at the Ocean Plaza Ballroom at Carolina Beach.

Related links:

Flashback: A look at memorable moments in Azalea Festival history

White House biography of Ronald Reagan

User-contributed question by:
manfred taylor

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One Response to “ What year was Ronald Reagan grand marshal of the Azalea Festival?”

  1. On August 28, 2010 at 12:06 am John Walker wrote:

    Your article on Ronald Reagan’s visit to Wilmington as Grand Marshall of the 1949 N.C. Azalea Festival brought back fond memories.

    I was in the Atlantic Coast Line Public Relations Department at the time and was in the group involved with arrangements for Mr. W. Thomas Rice, President of ACL, and several other railroad executives and Festival officials to bring Ronald Reagan and Debra Paget, Festival Queen, into Wilmington aboard an ACL business car, followed by an arrival ceremony at entrance of the train concourse beside Building “C”.

    The attached photo shows Mr. Rice, Master of Ceremonies, and Ronald Reagan and Debra Paget on the far right.

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