Letter: Living history interpretation is not street performing
St. Augustine, FL
I think the vast majority of people can agree that it is our city’s colorful history that makes St Augustine a special place to live, work, and visit.
Those re-enactors who interpret the last four-centuries of our history are some of the finest and most dedicated anywhere in the country. Historically accurate portrayal of the people and events that shaped St Augustine is both educational and entertaining.
As a city, I believe we should take all measures reasonably possible in order to promote and accommodate this positive and unique part of St Augustine’s culture.
In my opinion, a thorough review of our city code is needed to better distinguish between “street performers” and those who participate in educational living history programs. As currently written, the future of such programs and living history events could be in jeopardy. It is my guess that when the current code was written, in the midst of the street performer’s “freedom of speech” debate, the cause of living historical education fell between the cracks.
The Historic Florida Militia is a Florida non-profit corporation, founded in 1981, to promote tourism through living history educational programs throughout the year. This organization is responsible for most of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth century heritage events in St Augustine.
One of the challenges Historic Florida Militia faces, under the current code, is that “no person, group or organization may apply for more than three (3) parade permits for St. George Street in any calendar year,” according to Sec. 24-172 (c).
Historically accurate portrayal of heritage events enriches the cultural value of residence and visitors to St Augustine. With that in mind, perhaps an exemption could be crafted that would clearly identify the difference between reenactors and “street performers” in our code.