The only surviving navigational reading recorded of Ponce de Leon’s journey in 1513 known to Historic City News was taken at a position of 30 degrees 8 minutes north latitude, just off the coast of current day South Ponte Vedra Beach.
Commemoration activities took place at the North Beach Access parking lot at Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve on A1A North Coastal Highway at 12:00 noon today — the time Ponce de Leon sighted the land which he named “La Florida” 500 years ago today.
Ceremonies and presentations included a reenactment of the landing of Ponce de Leon and his men; with James Ponce, a native of St Augustine and direct descendent of the Spanish explorer, portraying his historic ancestor.
Accompanying Ponce, members of the Florida Historic Militia portray conquistadors attached to the landing party reading a navigational fix on a handmade 16th century nautical astrolabe.
Also during the ceremonies, the unveiling of a bronze statue of Ponce de Leon atop a base towering 15-feet above the natural dunes and native sea grasses that would have greeted the Spaniards in 1513; a gift to the State of Florida from St Augustine resident, Candace Carroll.
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater also dedicated a state historical marker and interpretive signage installed by the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve.
Photo credits: © 2013 Historic City News staff photographer