Teas of secrecy and surprise

by Shannon Rae Gentry
Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Supplied photo courtesy of Mark Steelman Photography 

Girls and their mothers gather for the 2012 Azalea Children’s Tea. This year’s sold-out event will be held on Sunday, March 24.

Southern charm and culture continue to blossom as the community readies itself for the upcoming Azalea Festival in April, with several young belles donning their hoop skirts and little princesses preparing for a secret garden tea.

The eleventh annual Azalea Children’s Tea hosted by Cape Fear Country Club will be held Sunday, March 24 with a new theme based on “The Secret Garden” at a secret destination known by attendees only.

Emceed by WECT’s Ashlea Kosikowski, there will be plenty of photo opportunities with visiting Cape Fear Garden Club Azalea Belles and Princesses, a silent auction, door prizes, goody bags and a “low tea” menu.

“We also have a new musical group, Studio 103, and they’re going to perform some songs from ‘The Secret Garden,’” said Annie Anthony, director of the Cape Fear Volunteer Center and co-chair of the Children’s Tea. 

Anthony also said that all proceeds benefit the volunteer center and this year’s tea would have many new features for participants to enjoy.

“In the secret garden there are going to be fairies, with friends who are special characters that will be with the girls throughout the entire tea,” Anthony said. “We also have different crafts than what we’ve ever had before, including Learning Express crafts for the kids, and Coastal Cupcakes will be there as well.”

For the first time the tea has a floral sponsor, Julia’s Florist and Foliage Design, along with a headlining sponsor, Downtown Darlings. Anthony said they are maxing out the space they have with activities and craft tables.

As the theme changes each year, Anthony said the tea was like walking into a different fairy tale each time, with children of all ages wearing little spring dresses to mimic the southern belles and princesses that many are there to see.

“We’re always keeping in mind the Azalea Belles, having them there is a great privilege and we want to showcase them in a beautiful environment,” she said. “It’s really one of the few times that people can interact with a belle in a more calm, personal environment.”

With so much attention paid to the garden and floral themes of the tea, Anthony said it was not unlike planning a wedding with pinks, yellows, purples and oranges to welcome spring and the 2013 Azalea Festival, a tea worth the secrecy and surprise.

“It’s always fun and [the secret destination] adds a sense of adventure,” she said. “It also discourages people from just showing up at the door thinking they can get a ticket, because they can’t.”

These secret destination teas are usually sold out events with more than 200 people in attendance. As of press time, tickets for the 2013 Azalea Children’s Tea have sold out.

email shannon@luminanews.com

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