Denise Lanclos of Scenic Lafayette loves azaleas! Discover Lafayette’s host Jan Swift welcomed Denise to the studio to discuss Lafayette’s Annual Azalea Trail Bicycle and Classic Car Cruise taking place on March 9, 2019. The historic Trail is celebrating 81 years of floral splendor with Ben Berthelot of Lafayette Convention & Visitors Commission serving as this year’s “Cruise Marshall”
The Azalea Trail originally began in 1935 when the Chamber of Commerce undertook a citywide beautification effort. By the late 1930’s the Garden Club was fully onboard and walked door to door encouraging local residents to plant azaleas.
By 1940, it is estimated that over 40,000 visitors toured the scenic Azalea Trail in Lafayette. Tourists described the azaleas as one of the greatest floral treats in the South. A film entitled Les Jardins de Mouton Gardens was released by Commerce Pictures of New Orleans, depicting the many tourists who traveled down Hwy 90 to drive the Azalea Trail.
By 1980, Southern Living named Lafayette’s Azalea Trail one of the top 10 Tourist Events in the South.
However, by the mid-1980’s urban sprawl and the demise of the Jaycees, who had overseen the trail in its last days, led to disinterest and some historic properties and azaleas were lost. The Trail faded in memory.
Fast forward to November 2014, when Scenic Lafayette was formed. In 2015: Scenic Lafayette adopted Azalea Trail Revitalization as its first-year initiative.
In 2016, the City of Lafayette was awarded the Azalea City Designation by Azalea Society of America, one of only 16 in the U. S. 2016 was also the Official Kickoff of the Azalea Trail Classic Car Caravan.
This year’s Azalea Trail Bicycle and Classic Car Cruise takes place on March 9, beginning at 1 p.m. at Parc Sans Souci for bicyclists, and 2 p.m. at the Lafayette Visitors Center, 1400 NW Evangeline Thruway, for the Car Cruise. The Lafayette Azalea Trail is a winding drive through historic districts, grand boulevards, and streets through approximately 20 miles of the city’s urban core.
The grand boulevards of St. Mary and Mall showcase Lafayette’s city flower, the “General Lafayette” Fuchsia Formosa, which was christened as such in honor of Marquis de Lafayette. The floral majesty of our local azaleas is so lovely it is called a Floral Mardi Gras by some.
For bikers interested in the scenic azalea routes that may be taken on March 9, you can check out the GPS routes here.
Scenic Lafayette is one of 49 state and local affiliates of Scenic America, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the visual character of our country’s roadways, countryside, and communities. Scenic Lafayette’s Facebook page provides local information.
For more information on the Azalea Trail, visit https://azaleatrail.org
Discover Lafayette would like to thank the many dedicated volunteers who work to beautify Lafayette and make our community a more scenic place for residents and visitors alike! Your work is appreciated and you make a difference in countless ways. We congratulate the following volunteers:
Charter Members of Scenic Lafayette: Alice Begneaud, David Begneaud, Stephanie Cornay Dugan, Robert Guercio, Sherrill Lorio, Cheryl Broussard Perret, Nancy Van Eaton Prince, and Bruce Conque.
Board of Directors:
Lynn Guidry, Stafford Barnett, June Faul, Heather Warner-Finley, Brandy Cavitt, Cheryl Perret, David Begneaud, Cindy Wiley, Robert Jarred.
Board Advisors: Don Begneaud, Bruce Conque, Micheal Cullen, Virginia Jones, Greg Manual, Sarah Schoeffler, Gretchen Vanicour. Abbie Judice, Kelia Bingham