12 Apr 2014


9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Presented By


The North Carolina Azalea Festival Parade is an annual event that is viewed by over 100,000 people. Floats, marching units and bands, clowns and horses, all highlighted by visiting celebrities, Queen Azalea and her court, and the Azalea Festival Princess await you!


Howard Penton PhotoHoward Penton is a native of Wilmington, a graduate of New Hanover High School, president of the graduating class of  1949, who attended Davidson College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

He served two years active duty in the U.S. Army, 1952-54, as a Ranger Trained Infantry officer and served 28 years in the U.S. Army Reserve retiring as full Colonel.

He actively managed his family business the Springer Coal and Oil Company of Wilmington. He was president of the North Carolina Fuel Merchants Association in 1961.

He served as a director of the Wilmington office of Wachovia Bank for 25 years. He was on the Peoples Federal Savings Bank board in the capacity of Director, later chairman, for 27 years. Following the merger of  Peoples Federal into First Citizens he subsequently served as a director of the Wilmington office of First Citizens Bank.

In 1969 Penton was named to the board of directors of Babies Hospital of Wrightsville Beach. In 1973 he began 29 years of service as a director of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. He served as chairman from 1995 to 1997.

He served on the board of Wilmington Development  Corporation  (a predecessor of Wilmington Committee of  100) which he later served on the board and as vice-chairman.

In 1967 Penton was one of 12 incorporators of the Historic \!Vilmington Foundation, whose mission is to preserve, protect and restore historic buildings. He was a member of the Wilmington Parking Commission, which opened the Wilmington Parking Deck in 1966.

Penton was campaign chairman for New Hanover United Fund in 1964 in which they went “over the top”. He was a member of the Wilmington Redevelopment  Commission  (urban renewal program).

He was Treasurer of the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce when it raised funds to purchase a lot on Wrightsville Beach upon which the Blockade Runner Hotel was built. Howard Penton was president of the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce in 1965.

Some notable accomplishments the Chamber made that year include:

Hiring of H. Van Reid as Executive Director.

Increasing the membership by 306 new members to 1,1L12.

Preparing and presenting the application for Wilmington’s entry in the All-American City Competition. Wilmington was selected that year.

In 1965 Howard Penton was the recipient of Jaycee’s Distinguished Service Award “Man of the Year;’ for public service. It was said that he was “… a person who contributes something to the community every day”.

In 1966 Howard Penton was given the Star News Citizen of the Year Award for distinguished service to the community.

Penton was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly as Representative for New Hanover County for two terms:  1969 and 1971.

He is proud to have made a talk on the floor of the House endorsing the proposal to bring the campuses in Wilmington, Charlotte and Asheville into the Greater University System.

Howard Penton has contributed to his community, his state and his country, and by his life and character has left footprints in the sands of time.


The parade just got even more interesting! We will now be having a “Best Entry” Contest! The winning entry will be determined by cateogries such as most creative, best executed, and most crowd pleasing entry. It will include all regular entries and floats, but does NOT include festival or parade sponsors, queens/kings, or the Band/JROTC units. The prize will be $500 cash as well as FOUR tickets to the Saturday night concert. The winner will be announced following the parade on our various social media sites. Click here to enter! 

Come have your picture take next to the Raminator presented by Neuwirth Motors!


The Viper (pictured below) will be starting off our 2014 Parade!


Ticket Information

Location: Third Street, Downtown Wilmington
Date: Saturday, April 12, 2014
Time: 9:00 AM
Tickets: Admission is free along the route…grab your chair or blankets and find a spot! Parade Bleacher seats may be purchased through the Festival Office starting in mid-March.


Location Map