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St. Augustine Mayor George Gardner (left) stands on St. Augustine's historic Bayfront with Mr. Andy Gessells and his wife Georgette Gessells. Mr. Gessells portrayed Pedro Menendez de Aviles during the events surrounding the 2003 Menendez Birthday Festival.
When Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles was born, as proud as his parents were of the new baby, they could never have imagined he would found a town that would celebrate his birthday nearly five centuries later. But that’s what happened.
The Menendez Birthday Festival, held on February 21 and 22, commemorated and celebrated the birth date of the founder of St. Augustine.
Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles was born in Aviles, Spain on February 15, 1519 and at the age of 46 founded St. Augustine, today the longest continually inhabited European-founded city in the United States, or "the Nation’s Oldest City." St. Augustine was founded on September 8, 1565.
The two-day festival began on Friday, February 21 with a flotilla of festival ships sailing into St. Augustine’s harbor to a welcome of cannon fire, music and fireworks. The following day’s events featured the arrival of Menendez by longboat with a gunfire salute followed by an afternoon of events centered on the Plaza de la Constitucion featuring Spanish dancers, period music, tapas, colonial artisans and crafters, and a grand parade.
The Menendez Festival is produced annually by the City of St. Augustine’s Department of Heritage Tourism for the benefit of the city’s preservation projects. Read more about this year’s Menendez Birthday Festival:
Menendez B-day festival begins Friday
The Schooner Freedom is centerpiece of this weekend's Menendez Birthday Festival
Who was that Pedro Menendez?
Aviles, Spain mayor visits Oldest City
Aviles mayor sheds light on relationship of sister cities
A 16th century procession makes its way down Cathedral Place to join in the ceremony greeting the arrival of Menendez.