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The City of St. Augustine will celebrate its 438th birthday with longstanding tradition and fun filled entertainment on Saturday, September 6.
Activities begin with the traditional reenactment of the landing of Menendez and Mass held at the Mission Nombre de Dios starting at 9:30am. The evening events include a concert in the Plaza de la Constitucion starting at 7:00pm. All events are free and open to the public.
Founded in 1565 as a Spanish colony by Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, St. Augustine is commonly called the Nation's Oldest City since it is the country’s longest continually inhabited city founded by Europeans. Although the City’s actual birthday is September 8, the celebration is held on a Saturday close to the anniversary date to accommodate greater participation by the community and visitors.
Day's events begin as they did four centuries ago
The day's events will begin in the same manner and at the same location as they did the day the city was founded. Historical accounts and archeological research indicate that the day began with the celebration of a Mass at the site of the Mission Nombre de Dios. The site is marked today with a 200 foot high cross, erected in 1965 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine.
Starting at 9:30am with choral music, the Mass will be preceded by a reenactment of the landing of Menendez accompanied by a contingent of soldiers and settlers portrayed by local reenactors.
Each year, a leading citizen is invited to portray Menendez. This year the role of Menendez will be portrayed by Emmett Pacetti, who served the City of St. Augustine Beach as a member of the city commission from 1989 to 2002 including eight years as Mayor.
Following the landing and the reading of a proclamation by George Gardner, Mayor of St. Augustine, there will be remarks by guest speaker Dr. Kathleen A. Deagan, Distinguished Research Curator of Historical Archeology for the Florida Museum of Natural History located in Gainesville, Florida. Dr. Deagan has long been associated with archeological research in St. Augustine including work at the grounds of the Mission Nombre de Dios.
St. Augustine’s "most requested band" to provide entertainment
The birthday celebration moves to the Plaza de la Constitucion at 7:00pm for a 2-hour concert by Prince Pele’s Polynesian Revue and the ceremonial cutting of the community birthday cake by members of the city’s Royal Family.
A favorite of audiences throughout Northeast Florida, Prince Pele’s Polynesian Revue has been performing coast to coast for 30 years. The group’s show is a musical journey through the South Pacific islands featuring a talented cast of singers, musicians and dancers performing songs and dances in a fun-filled "luau" atmosphere. The immense popularity of Prince Pele’s Polynesian Revue over the years has won it the distinction of being known as "St. Augustine’s most requested band."
During intermission, St. Augustine’s Royal Family will lead the audience in singing Happy Birthday and then will cut the birthday cake offering slices to all in attendance. The Royal Family, representing the Spanish Royal Family in 1672, the year the Castillo de San Marcos was commissioned is selected each year from heritage families in St. Augustine. This year's Royal Family consists of Joann McCellan as Queen Mariana, Brandi Grohowski as Princess Margarita Maria and Josh Crafton as the Boy-King Carlos.
Those attending the concert are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating.
The Mass and reenactment are organized by members of St. Augustine Catholic community and the evening events are produced by the City of St. Augustine. The entire event is made possible through support by the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council.
For more information call 904-825-1004.