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Annual azalea celebration ready to bloom

Jackson youth Ezra Hilderbrand, 8, holds a black rat snake at an exhibit during last year’s Wild Azalea Festival at the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve.

Jackson youth Ezra Hilderbrand, 8, holds a black rat snake at an exhibit during last year’s Wild Azalea Festival at the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve.

— The William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve is typically awash in colors from its azaleas at this time of the year.

The colors include red, pink, yellow, purple and burnt orange.

It can be like a visual symphony put on display for joggers, hikers and bird watchers to see.

It just hasn’t happened yet this spring because the flowers haven’t bloomed, according to nature preserve Manager Stephanie Berens.

“They’re so close though,” she said Thursday.

If Mother Nature gets her timing right, the azaleas may bloom just in time for the preserve’s annual Wild Azalea Festival April 6.

Hey, you can’t fault her for wanting to make a fashionable entrance at a party where hundreds of people are expected to be present.

The Wild Azalea Festival is held to recognize the fact that wild azaleas were the favorite flower of William H. Reynolds, who donated the land that became the nature preserve.

Berens said the event will be marked this year by all of its usual trappings, such as guided hikes, nature presentations and activity tables. A list of participants provided by the nature preserve manager includes the Georgia Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta, Dauset Trails, the Atlanta Audobon Society and Forest Park-based children’s activity company Macaroni Kids.

Seed planting and squirrel-feeder construction classes will also be available for children.

The free-to-attend festival will last from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Like many large community events held at the preserve, parking for the festival will be available at Babb Middle School, located at 5500 Reynolds Road in Forest Park, and shuttle buses will be available to transport attendees to and from the event.

The nature preserve is located at 5665 Reynolds Road in Morrow.