A celebration 500 years in the making

300-ANDERSON-PONCE-KINGToday, all eyes will be on the Historic City of St Augustine as city residents and visitors celebrate five hundred years, to the day, since Ponce de Leon’s landing in Florida. A full day of activities is scheduled in celebration of “Viva 500”.

Historic City News reporters will join a covey of press photographers being staged at base of the Bridge of Lions in anticipation of the full-fledged colorful re-enactment of the landing of Ponce de Leon and his crew at 9:00 a.m. this morning.

The arrival of Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon will be heralded with cannon fire and musket drills along St Augustine’s historic bayfront.

A commemorative La Florida wreath will be placed at the Ponce de Leon statue across from the Bridge of Lions in downtown St Augustine at 10:00 a.m. — being attended by Santiago Baeza Benavides; mayor of Ponce de Leon’s hometown of Santervás, Spain. A blessing will be given by Bishop Felipe Estévez of the Diocese of St Augustine.

The community will be immersed in the re-enactment portraying Ponce de Leon and his landing party as dignitaries from around the globe participate in interviews and activities in the Plaza de La Constitucion.

At 11:00 a.m. the Cathedral Basilica of St Augustine will celebrate the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s landing with a mass being attended by Spanish dignitaries and state representatives. There will be a blessing of the hand-crafted replica of the 15th century font used to baptize Ponce de León. The original still exists in the city of Santervás.

The United States Postal Service will unveil the 2013 La Florida Forever stamp at Lewis Auditorium on the Flagler College campus at 12:30 p.m. Presenters include: Florida Secretary of State Kenneth Detzner; Flagler College President Dr. William Abare; Florida Senator Bill Nelson and Ponce de Leon, portrayed by actor Chad Light.

From the Press Room at the Government House, Historic City News will learn of recent historic findings during a press conference beginning at 3:00 p.m.

This evening, at 7:30 p.m., the Fountain of Youth National Archaeological Park will host a reception concluding a recap of the day’s activities; 500 years in the making.

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