Historic City News editor Michael Gold believes it is fitting that Thanksgiving be the season for the first grants paid to local members of the city’s historical re-enactor community from a fund sponsored by Mayor Nancy Shaver.
A new program called “History on the streets” will encourage members of groups like the Men of Menendez and Florida Living History to appear in authentic period costume and regalia to engage the public and enhance the experience of St Augustine visitors at special events.
“I am delighted that so many participated in our first effort on Light-up Night and thankful for the many compliments and words of encouragement — both from our guests and residents,” Mayor Shaver told Gold this morning. “Ria and Bob Alvarez have been working with the city to make this idea a reality.”
A budget line item, suggested and sponsored by Mayor Shaver during the recent budget hearings for Fiscal 2015-2016, provides $5,000 to be awarded in “Small Town Experience” grants — money that can help reimburse the community re-enactors who have to furnish all of their own costumes, shoes, leather gear, and military items at their own expense.
“They volunteer their time and transportation to attend these events, have invested thousands of dollars in authentic costuming and more in educating themselves to know the difference between fact and fiction when retelling our historic city’s story,” Gold, who also supports the program, said.
The focus of these mini-grants is to pursue excellence in education and authenticity, according to Shaver. “I personally saw the reenactors posing for photo requests with city Light-up Night visitors and residents, as well as answering questions about our history, the characters they portray, and the meaning of their garb.”