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Consumer Confidence Report
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A 16th century procession makes its way down Cathedral Place to join in the ceremony greeting the arrival of Menendez.

City Celebrates Founder’s Birthday

Click here for complete details for the 2004 Menendez Birthday Festival

Click here to read about the 2003 Menendez Birthday Festival

The 485th birthday of Admiral Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, St. Augustine’s founder, will be celebrated February 27-29 in a setting that would have looked familiar to the 16th century residents of the oldest, continuously occupied European settlement in the United States.

Founded by Menendez in 1565 in order to establish Spain's imperial presence on the Florida peninsula, St. Augustine will host a birthday celebration that features a tribute to the city’s Spanish heritage. The three-day event will not only occur within the shadow of the massive
Castillo de San Marcos fortress, the festivities will take place in the Colonial Spanish Quarter Museum where visitors will see what everyday life was like for the inhabitants of this important fortified presidio.

On Friday evening, February 27, Menendez and his fleet of sailing ships will enter St. Augustine’s harbor where they will be greeted by a cannon fire salute from the Castillo. Disembarking at the bay front, Menendez and his men will be escorted by dignitaries from St. Augustine and his birthplace, Aviles, Spain, through the gates of the Spanish Quarter. Paso Fino horses, flamenco dancers, and Latin bands will entertain well into the evening.

On Saturday, visitors to the town will see authentic 16th century artisans at work within the Spanish Quarter while enjoying an outdoor shrimp boil, beer and sangria. At noon, the Grand Paseo begins with a procession of 16th century conquistadors, Paso Fino horses, dignitaries, clergy, townspeople, musicians, Native Americans, jugglers, and giant heads. Arriving at the Plaza de la Constitucion, Menendez will ascend to the balcony of Government House, the seat of government for Spanish Florida, to receive birthday greetings from the assembled multitude. Entertainment, including 16th century comedic skits, dancing by the Grupo Folklorico Es Rebost from Menorca, Spain, performances by world champion Paso Fino horses, food, drink and fun will continue throughout the afternoon and evening at Fiesta el Capitan in the Spanish Quarter Museum.

Colorful performances by international champion Paso Fino horses will take place on each day of the celebration. Horses and riders from the Paso Fino Breeders Club International will perform to the accompaniment of Luis Mario’s Latin Band. Included in their performances will be the "Wine Class Demonstration" during which the horses will dance while their riders carry a glass of wine. The rider with the most wine remaining in the glass after the dance will be declared the winner.

A Noche de Gala masked ball will be held Saturday night at the Lightner Museum. Authentic 16th century or black tie attire and reservations are required for this event.

Events continue throughout Sunday, including performances by local music and dance groups celebrating the city’s Spanish heritage. With the exception of Noche de Gala, all of the events during the three-day birthday celebration will be free and open to the public.

For more information, call St. Augustine’s Department of Heritage Tourism at 904-825-5088


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