High ranking dignitaries, some with security details, came to St Augustine yesterday to discuss plans for Viva 500; the State of Florida’s promotional program to commemorate five-hundred years since Ponce de Leon claimed La Florida in the name of the Spanish crown.
Some familiar faces involved in the statewide Viva 500 celebration are also involved in the 450th commemoration through a seated, yet unfunded, federal commission of political heavy-hitters who St Augustine officials hoped would bring overdue financial support to the local anniversary event.
To date there has been no congressional funding for the federal 450th commission or any significant corporate financial donations to the local commemoration efforts; with the first of a four-year series of commemorations two months short of completion.
The Viva 500 program has received no state funding, according to a presentation by Secretary of State Ken Detzner; although the Secretary said the progress of next year’s commemoration can be attributed to volunteers who have contributed time and money to make the statewide celebration a success. “We don’t know exactly where Ponce de Leon landed as he traveled along the coast,” Detzner explained. “So, Viva 500 is opportunity for everyone in Florida to get involved and celebrate.”