WOW! It has officially been one whole week since I was crowned the 68th North Carolina Azalea Festival Princess and I can honestly it has been my “crowning” achievement. Before I get into all that I have accomplished this week, there are many people I would like to thank:

God– With you anything is possible. Thank you for always giving me confidence and reminding me that when I get scared to walk in Your strength and not my own. Thank you for incorporating this experience into your plan for me and giving me this opportunity.

My parents and my sisterme mom and dadOne of the questions in my interview was, “You are involved in so many different things. How do you do it all?” I answered my family. You all are behind me 100% percent of the time and are supportive of me in whatever I choose to do. You all encourage me to do my best and not to worry because EVERYTHING works out for a reason. Thank you Mom for arranging all of my appointments and for waking up at the crack of dawn and driving me everywhere I needed to go on pageant day. Thank you Dad for arriving at Kenan Auditorium two and a half hours before the pageant even started so the whole family could have great seats. me and my sisterFinally, thank you Gracie for choosing to come home on your spring break, and not going on vacation, just so you could be there Saturday to cheer for me. I love you all.

Kande and Amy– Thank you for guiding me through this whole process and answering my endless questions about if I am doing something correctly. I am so excited for this year with you both, and I think we will make a great trio!

Angela– Thank you for finding the grace and confidence in me so I could display it for everyone to see. In the beginning I was clueless on how to stand correctly and how to do a turn, but with your guidance I mastered it all.

angela-leah-and-i-Thanks to you, I was poised and graceful and elegant, which are all things I thought a cross country runner could never be!

Miss Sharon and AFYC– Thank you for working diligently all year long to raise money for this pageant and for making the whole experience spectacular for me, the 22 other amazing contestants, and the community. It was truly a night to remember. Having participated on this committee before, I know all the hard work that you have put into this event. I will do my best so that AFYC gets its due credit.

Camille’s of Wilmington–  My dress was perfect! I know I drove you all insane trying to find just the right one. With your help, guidance, and alterations we did. Thank you.

back of dress me in front of curtain

Elisha and Blush– I could count on one hand the number of people who are crazy enough to deal with me and my “bedhead,” but Elisha you are one of them. You transformed me and made me feel as princessy on the outside as I did on the inside.

me in blue dressYou made sure that I looked EXACTLY how I wanted to look and even warned me that there was a possibility my eyelids could have stuck together after you put on my fake eyelashes. You rock.

The Pope family, the Milam family, Mrs. McKinney, Zelle, and Mrs. Dana– Thank you all for taking time out of your days to interview me. These mock interviews helped me practice for the real one and your feedback was SO helpful.

Friends and family– Thank you for your support throughout this experience. I could not have done it without any single one of you. It was truly a group effort.

After that night, things picked up quickly. On Sunday I had my first appearance at the Children’s Tea that was The Wizard of Oz themed (yay!). I got to meet so many people and I enjoyed every second of it. After that, I had my official portrait made by Jack Upton. The photo can be seen in the Souvenir Book during Festival week or in the North Carolina Azalea Festival Office soon! On Monday, my court- Leah Avant, Wilker Ballantine, Micaela Cortner, And Grayson Burnett- and I attended the board meeting and got to introduce ourselves. All the committee heads were present and I got to thank them for all their hard work – not to mention all the time and energy they have put into this Festival. Thursday I attended the Governor’s Mansion and watched him sign the official proclamation of the Azalea Festival. He even gave me a really cool pen! While we were waiting for the governor, I met the Elementary School Art Contest winner, Ella.  Her painting was of the “Wilmington Sunsets and Beautiful Belles.” She will be in the Parade so make sure you watch out for her! Friday night I attended the “Luck of the Festival” Spring Soirée where I welcomed guests and even got to pull raffle tickets and award some attendees with some great prizes. Thank you Miss Connie from Isabella Grape for my beautiful blue, strapless, sparkly dress for this event. I am SO looking forward to working with you again.

I would like to give a HUGE thank you to Miss Paula for doing my hair and makeup for every single appearance I have made since I was crowned. You do the hair and makeup for the princess out of the goodness of your heart and for that I am so grateful. I have no idea what I would do without you.

I would just like to say how grateful I am for the group of girls that make up my court. You are all so talented and intelligent. jumping photoWe are all so uplifting and encouraging of one another- especially when I could not get off the ground for the jumping picture and you all kept telling me I could do it. I am so blessed to have you by my side for this whole experience.

This past week has been busy, but I have enjoyed every second of it. I am so honored to be the 68th North Carolina Azalea Festival Princess and be part of the festival family once again.

me being crowned

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love,
Your 2016 Azalea Festival Princess
Lilly Kays

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