Happy 501st Birthday Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles

What do you get for the man who has 501-years of exploration and world travel under his belt?  Historic City News readers are invited to attend a brief wreath-laying ceremony on Friday, February 14, starting at 10:00 a.m. in Parque de Menendez located in front of St Augustine City Hall, 75 King Street.

Menendez, who founded the city on September 8, 1565, was born on February 15, 1519, in Avilés, a port city in the Asturias region of Spain.  Although his birthday celebration should be Saturday to remain historically accurate, this is not the first time that city officials have changed local history to fit their interpretation of it.

Following his career in the Spanish Navy during the reign of Spanish King Phillip II, his voyage to Florida in 1565 was a royal response to the French having founded Fort Caroline (near Jacksonville, FL).  Soon after he and his soldiers completed the settlement of St. Augustine, Menendez defeated the French at Fort Caroline and occupied the fortress in the name of the King of Spain.

The birthday ceremony will include a procession in front of the Menendez statue by a group of reenactors from Historic Florida Militia.

Historic City News readers: Show off your knowledge of St Augustine’s authentic history.  In a meeting of the St Augustine city commission on February 15, 1978, the grassy, cordoned off area on the north side of the city hall building was officially named “Parque de Menendez”.  The ceremony was attended by the Ambassador of Spain to the United States.  The statute itself, a replica of one in Avilés, was given by “the People of Avilés, Spain to the People of St. Augustine, Florida” on September 8, 1972.