Florida plans 500th anniversary activities

As representatives from the federal 450th Commemoration Commission prepare for their inagural meeting in St Augustine, representatives from Florida state agencies have already gathered to finalize plans for the 500th anniversary of Florida’s founding by Ponce de Leon in 1513.

The meeting, held at the newly inaugurated visitor center at Mission San Luis, Tallahassee, was conducted by Secretary of State, Kurt Browning.

Attendees viewed a special video of Governor Rick Scott reiterating his support of the Viva Florida 500 project and thanking committee delegates for their involvement.

Following the meeting, he sent an official invitation to King Juan Carlos and Sofia of Spain to attend Florida’s V centenary events.

“Florida has a rich and diverse heritage. In 2013, we will commemorate the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s discovery of Florida and all of what is now the United States,” Governor Rick Scott said. “Viva Florida 500 is a significant opportunity for our state. It’s a chance to celebrate our diverse heritage and a chance to tell the world about our state, our people and our history.”

King Carlos and Queen Sofia and the Spanish government fully support the 2013 commemoration of Spain’s historic ties to Florida.

The V centenary is one of Spain’s priorities and is seen as a means of reinforcing political, cultural, and commercial relations between the U.S. and Spain.

Participating with the State of Florida in this celebration is the Spain-Florida 500 years Foundation.

Spanish Foreign Minister, Trinidad Jimenez, conveyed her support for the Foundation’s projects during a visit to Washington, D.C.

She praised the foundation’s objectives, highlighting the V centenary as an opportunity to strengthen relations between the countries.

Representatives of Florida and the foundation will meet with Spanish officials in Madrid to further link Viva Florida 500 with Spain.

Event calendar for 2011 – 2013 includes the presentation of a statue of St. Augustine’s founder, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, to Mission San Luis by the Government of Asturias, and the debut of the Ponce de Leon award honoring exceptional Hispanic-Floridians.

The inaugural presentation will be in November 2011 and continue as an annual event.

Other foundation events include a Florida history day presented at various statewide venues, three academic seminars, and an art exhibit called Spain America: 500 Years of Art.

IESE Business School and the Spain-Florida Foundation 500 Years will again award a grant for IESE’s Senior Executive Program.

The foundation’s main event will occur March 2013 with a visit from the King and Queen of Spain.

A Navy Tall Ship race will take place from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Jacksonville and Miami tracing the path taken by Ponce de Leon.

Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News staff photographer

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