Denise Lanclos

Denise Lanclos (right) spoke last week with Jan Swift of the Discover Lafayette podcast. 

Denise Lanclos - Azalea Trail in Lafayette LA from Discover Lafayette on Vimeo.

Denise Lanclos of Scenic Lafayette loves azaleas.

Discover Lafayette host Jan Swift spoke with Lanclos last week to discuss Lafayette’s annual Azalea Trail Bicycle and Classic Car Cruise March 9. The historic Trail is celebrating 81 years of floral splendor with Ben Berthelot of Lafayette Convention & Visitors Commission serving as this year’s Cruise Marshal.

You can listen to the podcast here

This year’s event starts 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 Azalea Trail originally began in 1935, and by the late 1930’s the Garden Club began asking local residents to plant azaleas.

By 1940, an estimated 40,000 visitors toured the scenic Azalea Trail in Lafayette. Tourists described the azaleas as one of the greatest floral treats in the South. The film "Les Jardins de Mouton Gardens" was released by Commerce Pictures of New Orleans, depicting the many tourists who traveled down U.S. 90 to drive the Azalea Trail.

By the mid-1980s, however, 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.

In November 2014, Scenic Lafayette was formed and in 2015 it 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.

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. 

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Follow Adam Daigle on Twitter, @adamdaigleAdv.