Last week, on Wednesday, February 15th at 11:00 a.m. Historic City News subscribers attended when the City of St. Augustine marked Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles’ 504th birthday with a brief wreath-laying ceremony at the base of his statue in front of City Hall, located at 75 King Street.
The ceremony included a processional and a reading of the proclamation in front of the statue of Don Pedro Menendez by a group of reenactors from Historic Florida Militia, as well as remarks offered by freshman City Commissioner Jim Springfield.
Menendez, who founded the city on September 8, 1565, was born in Avilés, a port city in the Asturias region of Spain, on February 15, 1519. Following a career in the Spanish Navy during the reign of Spanish King Phillip II, his voyage to Florida in 1565 was in response to the French having founded Fort Caroline. The French were defeated soon after the arrival of Menendez and the establishment of St. Augustine.
The area in front of city hall was named Parque de Menendez in a ceremony on February 15, 1978, by the City Commission and attended by the Ambassador of Spain to the United States. The statute itself is a replica of one in Avilés, given by “the People of Avilés, Spain to the People of St. Augustine, Florida” on September 8, 1972.