Seen cutting the ribbon to officially open Mobile’s 1951 Azalea Trail is Yolande Betbeze, accompanied by her escort Jack Stallworth. Along with the title of Azalea Queen, Mobile-born Betbeze was also that year’s Miss America. During the 1950s, the Junior Chamber of Commerce, now known as the Mobile Jaycees, bestowed the reigning Miss America with the role of Azalea Queen, a title that is now held by a young lady chosen from Mobile County schools.
The creation of the Azalea Trail is credited to horticulturist Sam Lackland. In a letter to the Mobile Register dated 1928, Lackland wrote, in part, “Mobile [is] blessed with a soil that has grown so many large azaleas that could … bring in the tourist money that Mobile needs.” The Mobile Garden Club, with the help of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, opened the trail in 1929.
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Photo courtesy History Museum of Mobile Collection, The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of South Alabama • Colorization by Dynamichrome Limited