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After the Cabinet presented City officials with a resolution honoring St. Augustine as Capital for a Day, and the City presented the Governor with the Key to the City, all posed for an official photograph. Pictured (from left to right) are Commissioner Bill Lennon, Attorney General Charlie Crist, Vice Mayor Susan Burk, Commissioner Errol Jones (holding the resolution), Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson, Mayor George Gardner, Governor Jeb Bush (holding key to the city), Treasurer Tom Gallagher, and Commissioner Don Crichlow. (Photo by Gili Lochner)

Capital for a Day was a Big Event for St. Augustine

Over 1,000 people participate when State Cabinet and 30 State Agencies move operations to St. Augustine on October 28

It was a short visit, but an important one when Governor Jeb Bush and Florida’s Cabinet--Attorney General Charlie Crist, Treasurer Tom Gallagher, and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson--moved the state capital to St. Augustine for the day.

For one day, Tuesday, October 28, St. Augustine became the capital of Florida, a role the city has not played in 180 years. The event, designated Capital for a Day, was not merely a symbolic gesture. For all practical purposes, for one day only, St. Augustine was the capital of Florida if for no other reason than simply because what would have happened in Tallahassee on that day happened in St. Augustine, namely the state Cabinet held one of its twice monthly meetings and 30 state agencies conduced business.

Cabinet Meeting
The day began when the Governor called the Cabinet meeting to order at 9:00am in The Alcazar Room of St. Augustine’s City Hall, 75 King Street, the same room in which the St. Augustine City Commission holds its meetings. The Cabinet meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month; the City Commission on the second and fourth Mondays.

Lasting a little over two hours, the Cabinet meeting opened with an invocation offered by Father Terrance Morgan, Pastor of the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine. Then following the pledge to the flag, Attorney General Crist read a resolution in honor of St. Augustine’s designation as Capital for a Day. The resolution was accepted by St. Augustine Mayor George Gardner, Vice Mayor Susan Burk and Commissioners Donald Crichlow, Errol Jones and William Lennon.

Following the presentation, Mayor Gardner offered reciprocal remarks and welcomed the visiting officials by presenting the Governor with the key to the city. In addition, each member of the Cabinet was presented commemorative city coins and a Spanish flag that had flown only once on April 1, 2001, the day Their Majesties the King Juan Carlos II and Queen Sofia of Spain visited St. Augustine.

The Cabinet then settled down to the same agenda as if the meeting were held in Tallahassee with agency representatives traveling to St. Augustine to make presentations.

As it turned out, a rotation system allowing members of the public to enter The Alcazar Room for a limited time worked well and permitted the more than 300 people who came to witness the meeting the chance to do so. By the time the meeting adjourned a little after 11:00am, no one was waiting in line. The audience included elementary school children, retired seniors, downtown workers and local governmental leaders.

The Agency Fair
The second part of Capital for A Day was the extensive Agency Fair where 30 state agencies displayed exhibits sharing information regarding their services. The Agency Fair was held in the Plaza de la Constitucion and ran from 11:00am until 1:30pm.

The Agency Fair proved to be an ideal opportunity for members of the public with concerns or questions regarding any services delivered by state government to meet face-to-face with representatives closest to the delivery of those services.

During the Agency Fair, groups from two St. Johns County Schools provided entertainment: the St. Augustine High School Jazz Ambassadors and Memory Through Music, a choral group from Crookshank Elementary School. A complimentary lunch was provided from 11:30am until 1:00pm catered by Gypsy Cab company which was enjoyed by the over 600 attendees of the Agency Fair.

Governor Bush signs the King's Book in Government House as did other members of the Cabinet. The book which was inaugurated on April 1, 2001, the day Their Majesties the King Juan Carlos II and Queen Sofia of Spain visited St. Augustine and were the first ones to sign what has since become the city's official guest register. Looking on as the Governor signs the book are members of Homeschoolers By the Sea who had the opportunity to witness the day's events. From left to right are Christopher Hill, Celia Glassey, Jay McWilliams (partially visible), and Laura Glassey. (Photo by Gili Lochner)

Governor and Cabinet visit Agency Fair
Following the Cabinet meeting, the Governor and Cabinet were escorted to the Government House by two dozen members of the St. Augustine Garrison, a group of reenactors depicting St. Augustine-based Spanish soldiers of the 1740’s. The Garrison serves as the honor guard for all visiting dignitaries to St. Augustine and has become a symbol of the pride the community takes in its Spanish heritage.

While at Government House the Governor and Cabinet members took time to sign the city’s official guest book which was inaugurated by King Juan Carlos II and Queen Sofia during their visit.

Upon their arrival at the Gazebo in the center of the Plaza, the honored guests were greeted by Mayor Gardner and the Governor offered warm remarks to the more than 500 people gathered there. Governor Bush then presented a Points of Light Award to Mr. Tommy Allen, a St. Augustine native and long time member of the St. Johns County School Board for his enthusiastic support and promotion of the Character Counts program. Established in February 2000, the Governor's Points of Light Award program recognizes Florida residents and organizations that have demonstrated exemplary volunteer service to their community.

After stepping from the Gazebo and into the crowd, the Governor and members of the Cabinet seemed in no hurry to leave as all took time to greet members of the community, sign autographs and listen to questions.

It was indeed a special day for the City of St. Augustine and the hundreds who participated.
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Hundreds who gathered in the Plaza (above) for the Agency Fair listened as Governor Bush spoke from the Gazebo (below) in the center of the City’s historic Plaza de la Constitucion. (Photo above by Gili Lochner. Photo below by Mark Cubbedge)

To read accounts of the visit as described by the media click on the links below.
• From the St. Augustine Record
• From the Florida Times Union
• From the Gainesville Sun (AP story)

 

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