Azalea Trail Maids

One of the more unusual rituals of Southern society takes place every year in Mobile, Alabama when high school girls from throughout the county compete for the opportunity to become an Azalea Trail Maid. If chosen the girls work with a milliner to create a dream dress in their assigned color. Each dress is unique but must adhere to a specific set of standards that include a hoop skirt with steel rods, a continuous ruffle at the top of the bodice, cotton pantaloons along with a matching parasol and taffeta lined hat.

The Trail Maids appear at official functions and parades through the nation representing the state of Alabama as ambassadors of southern hospitality.

When the Trail Maids represented Alabama in then-President-Elect Barack Obama’s inaugural parade, the head of Alabama’s NAACP, Edward Vaughn, created a controversy by declaring “Alabama should have had something that was more indicative of the progress that has been made in the state rather than a throw back to the slave era."

 

Greta Pratt 2012