Print
Coronavirus

Opinion: Springtime In Wilmington

By Rob Kaiser, posted Apr 3, 2020
Rob Kaiser
The azaleas are blooming.
 
So many traditions are suspended, but it’s a sunny spring day and the azaleas are blooming.
 
Today should be the Azalea Festival Garden Party with big hats, seersucker suits and plenty of spirits. Instead we’re confronting new concepts like Zoom cocktail parties and #socialdistancing.
 
Still, this being springtime in Wilmington, every effort will be made to throw a party.
 
The Azalea Festival team is gamely throwing a Virtual Garden Party on Facebook, encouraging revelers to dress up, share photos and presumably imbibe the spring spirit. They do, though, instruct home partiers to “keep those photos social media appropriate.” (Does such a standard exist?)
 
Of course, it’s not the same.
 
Today, Dockside is quiet. Limos and Ubers aren’t snaking around Airlie Road. A caravan carrying the queen, her court and other dignitaries isn’t interrupting intersections.
 
Saturday’s parade is off. Concerts are postponed. Azalea Festival’s eclectic mix of historic home tours, a coin show and boxing tournament aren’t happening this weekend.
 
This is the Azalea Festival’s first cancellation since it started in 1948, and the loss of its annual traditions is particularly striking amid so much uncertainty.
 
Schools are closed. Many of us “non-essentials” are home. While grocery store parking lots are packed, we’re forbidden to step foot into a restaurant.
 
Normally this afternoon, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo would have been at the Garden Party. Instead he was looking out his City Hall office window where the grandstand for tomorrow’s Azalea Festival Parade should have been standing.
 
Saffo said the city’s financial team is modeling how they’ll react if Wilmington’s tax revenues drop between 30 to 70%.
 
“We know we’re going to lose a tremendous amount of revenue,” he said.
 
This is not how the beginning of spring should be in Wilmington, particularly without the Garden Party.
 
“It’s supposed to be a joyous time,” Saffo said. “I look forward to it like everybody else looks forward to it.”
 
Of course, what’s happening is so much bigger than less parties in our little corner of the world. Hospitals are filling up in New York City. An astounding 10 million Americans filed for unemployment in the past two weeks, and millions more are close behind in the virtual unemployment line.
 
We’ve had numerous shocks to the system the past two decades from 9/11 to the Great Recession to Hurricane Florence to COVID-19.
 
And this will be a huge one in terms of lives lost and ripple effects from the economic shutdown. This will change many people’s lives, perspectives and careers.
 
Some traditions will be lost and new ones will start, although let’s all hope Zoom cocktail parties end soon.
 
So much is different this year, but the azaleas are blooming.
 
Rob Kaiser is the publisher of Greater Wilmington Business Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].
Ico insights

INSIGHTS

SPONSORS' CONTENT
Dallas headshot 300x300

Growing Business Value When Times Are Tough

Dallas Romanowski - Cornerstone Business Advisors
Burrus rob headshot 300x300

Coronavirus Analytics

Robert Burrus - Cameron School of Business - UNC-Wilmington
Aaeaaqaaaaaaaaidaaaajdhiztrkodm0lte2yjetngrkmy1hotrmltawmdvlmwqyztmymw

NextGen Entrepreneurs Inspire Virtual YEPex Summit

Diane Durance - UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Trending News

Education Leader Forges Way Forward

Cece Nunn - May 22, 2020

Stay-at-home Improvement

David Dean - May 22, 2020

NHRMC: Suitors Come Calling

Vicky Janowski - May 22, 2020

For Restaurants And Retailers, Proposal In Works To Boost Business

Christina Haley O'Neal - May 22, 2020

MADE: Spicing Up Local Markets

Staff Reports - May 22, 2020

In The Current Issue

WorkTok Aids Communication

One new Wilmington startup is trying to address those current workforce trends and increase employee/ employer interaction through its app,...


Education Leader Forges Way Forward

Burns was tapped as interim superintendent of NHCS in February, following the resignation of Tim Markley. Burns assumed his new role in Marc...


Info Junkie: Rhonda Bellamy

Rhonda Bellamy, executive director of the Arts Council of Wilmington/New Hanover County, shares her top tech and info picks....

Book On Business

The 2020 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!


Galleries

Videos

2019 Health Care Heroes
August 26, 2019 Power Breakfast: A Healthy Sale?
2019 WILMA Leadership Accelerator
2019 WilmingtonBiz Expo Keynote Lunch - CEO, nCino, Pierre Naude`