The City of St. Augustine’s Birthday is one of the most exciting times of the year. The celebration grows each year and this year includes three full days of special events according to an updated press release to Historic City News from Cathy DuPont in the Office of Public Affairs.
This year, the celebration will focus attention on the Native Americans that lived here before, during and after the arrival of the Spanish settlers; the reenactment of Pedro Menendez’s landing in 1565 followed by a celebration of Mass; a special interactive exhibit of the city’s historic timeline; and a birthday party complete with cake and games.
Starting on Thursday, August 28 and continuing through Saturday, August 30, the events commemorate St. Augustine’s standing as the longest continually inhabited city founded by Europeans in what is now the United States -making it the Nation’s Oldest City.
St. Augustine has set a remarkable record for endurance that is unmatched in American history. Despite hurricanes, wars, plagues and countless pirate raids, the city has survived and flourished continuously since September 8, 1565 when its birth was proclaimed by Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles. This year’s birthday celebration will focus attention on the religious leaders, Native Americans, and women who were there on the first day of the city’s existence.
All activities surrounding the St. Augustine 443rd Birthday Celebration are free and within convenient walking distance from the Visitor Information Center and adjacent parking facility.
All the information contained in this release along with links to maps for each event location, is available at www.staugustinesbirthday.com.
St. Augustine’s 443rd Birthday Celebration
Celebrating Those Who Were Already Here
Thursday, August 28
The Spaniards were not the first to think of the St. Augustine area as â€œhome.â€ Native Americans known as the Timucua had been living there for at least 500 years when the Europeans first arrived. In fact, from the first moments of their arrival, the Spaniards encountered the residents of Seloy, a large Timucuan village located at the present site of the Fountain of Youth Archeological Park. From 5:00pm to 9:00pm. The Seminoles and other U.S. tribes that have been part of Florida’s history will also be represented, and during the evening, an Indian Pow Wow will honor the Native American traditions that are a part of the cityâ€™s history. Admission is free.
Entertainment of the 16th Century
Friday, August 29
From 5:00pm to 8:00pm, 16th century entertainers, including jugglers, madrigal singers, and actors will present authentic skits and comedies in the gardens of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum located at 19 San Marco Avenue. Admission to the grounds is free.
& Celebration of Mass
Saturday, August 30
A full day of activities begins at 9:30am as authentically clad figures prepare for the reenactment of the landing by the cityâ€™s founder, Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, at the Mission of Nombre de Dios, the exact landing point of the Spanish colonists in 1565. The site of the landing is marked today with a 208 foot stainless steel cross erected in 1965 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the cityâ€™s founding. Each year, a leading citizen is invited to portray Menendez by the organizers of the Founderâ€™s Day Reenactment. This year the role of Menendez is portrayed by Andy Gessells, a local business leader who frequently portrays Menendez at the annual Noche de Gala Ball in February each year.
The Celebration of Mass
The landing reenactment will be followed, as it was 443 years ago, with a celebration of Mass at an outdoor wooden altar by the waterâ€™s edge at the Mission Nombre de Dios, located at 27 Ocean Ave. (off of San Marco). This year the celebrant for Mass is Father Tom Willis, Pastor of the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine. The speaker is Dr. John Diviney, Director of Spanish-Latin American Studies at Flagler College.
First Thanksgiving cooking contest & living history historic timeline
Saturday, August 30
Decades before the Pilgrims sat down for a harvest feast the good people of St. Augustine had already established the tradition with their neighbors the Timucuan. That First Thanksgiving will be remembered at noon with a cooking contest featuring authentic 16th century foods and recipes. Local restaurants will team with re-enactors to present authentic great cuisine in amateur and professional classes. The contest will take place at a historical encampment featuring a living timeline of the cityâ€™s history on the grounds. Authentic 16th century lunches are available for purchase.
Saturday, August 30
Noon – 3:00pm
The Birthday Party
For a birthday party, or fiesta, you have to have cake, and there will be lots of cake at the Birthday Fiesta in the Colonial Spanish Quarter Museum from Noon until 3:00pm.
The fiesta will feature entertainment by bluegrass favorites, The Driftwoods, and a busy lineup of childrenâ€™s colonial crafts activities including making beaded and leather braided necklaces, and a special archeology oriented activity. During the fiesta, St. Augustineâ€™s Royal Family will cut the official birthday cake.
St. Augustineâ€™s Royal Family represents the Spanish Royal Family in 1672, the year the Castillo de San Marcos was commissioned. Each year the royal trio is selected from among St. Augustineâ€™s oldest families. This yearâ€™s Royal Trio are Alice Baker as Queen Marianna, who traces her heritage back through the Genovar family, Timothy Colee, as King Carlos, whose heritage is traced through the Colee family, and Tori Baker, as Princess Margarita Maria, who traces her history through the Solano family.
Birthday cake will be distributed as long as quantities last and soft drinks and water will be available for purchase. No food or drink may be brought into the museum.
For More Information
The place where every visit to St. Augustine should begin is at the St. Augustine & St. Johns County Visitor Information Center. Helpful guides, connections to various tours, a free shuttle to downtown and lots of clean restrooms. Adjacent to the Visitor Information Center is the Historic Downtown Parking Facility. With its nearly 1,200 parking spaces, the facility has become the preferred parking location in the city.
For directions and more information on the Visitor Information Center call 904.825.1000 or visit www.vicparking.com. To better plan your visit to St. Augustine and St. Johns County, call 800.653.2489 of go to www.getaway4florida.com.