500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon landing


500-FOY-PONCE-HCNHistoric City News readers already know that April 3, 2013 is a big day in Florida’s history — the 500th anniversary of the day in 1513 when Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon landed on the shores of this land that he would name “La Florida”.

While the exact location of Ponce de Leon’s landing is not known, historical documents record that on April 2, 1513, his expedition’s navigator logged the ship’s position at 30 degrees 8 minutes — just south of current day Ponte Vedra Beach and just north of St Augustine; they came ashore the following day.

The anniversary is not going unnoticed in St. Augustine which will see a morning filled with activities marking the big day which include four events all open to the public.

•The day will begin at 9:00 a.m. with a re-enacted commemorative landing of Ponce de León and his crew at the St. Augustine bay front on the north side of the Bridge of Lions. The landing will feature the firing of cannons from the Castillo de San Marcos.

•At 10:00 a.m., the event will transition to the Ponce de León statue located just east of the Plaza de la Constitución. A ceremonial wreath will be placed at the foot of the statue and remarks will be shared by Mayor Joseph Boles of St. Augustine and Mayor Santiago Baeza Benavides of Santervás, Spain, Ponce de León’s birthplace.

•Activities then move to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine where a commemorative mass will be held at 11:00 a.m. led by Bishop Felipe Estévez of the Diocese of St. Augustine. A portion of the mass feature the blessing a hand crafted replica of the 15th century font used to baptize Ponce de León in the City of Santervás. Spanish dignitaries and State of Florida representatives are expected to attend the commemorative mass.

•The anniversary of the founding of Florida could not pass without a commemorative stamp from the United States Postal Service. The morning’s activities conclude at 12:30 p.m. when the USPA will unveil the 2013 Ponce de León commemorative stamp during a special ceremony held at the Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College located at 14 Granada Street.