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It’s been said that if St. Augustine lasts for 1,000 years, then at 440 it’s about time for a mid-life crisis. Starting at 5:00pm St. Augustine’s 440th Birthday Celebration features Mid-Life Crisis, one of the most requested bands from the highly popular summer program Concerts in the Plaza.
St. Augustine’s Birthday Celebration, a day-long schedule of longstanding traditions and fun filled entertainment, will be held on Saturday, September 3.
This year, the city celebrates its 440th birthday.
The Birthday Celebration activities starts with the traditional reenactment of the landing of Menendez and a Mass held at the Mission Nombre de Dios starting at 9:30am then end’s with music and birthday cake in the Plaza starting at 5:00pm. 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 longest continually inhabited city founded by Europeans in what is now the United States. 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.
The Morning: The Landing of Menendez
The morning’s event begins at 9:30am with choral music, the landing of Menendez, and Mass celebrated as it was and on the same spot as 440 years earlier. This year the Mass will be conducted at the Mission Nombre de Dios’ outdoor altar by Bishop Victor Galeone, Bishop of the Diocese of Saint Augustine.
Bishop Victor Galeone, Bishop of the Diocese of Saint Augustine, will celebrate Mass as part of the Birthday Celebration activities at the Mission Nombre de Dios.
The commemoration of the city’s founding begins in the same manner and at the same location as did the actual events. Historical accounts and archeological research indicate that on September 8, 1565, with nearly 1,000 voyagers cheering, Menendez set foot on the shores of Florida at the location of today’s Mission Nombre de Dios. In honor of the saint whose feast day fell on the day Menendez first sighted shore, he named the colonial settlement Saint Augustine and then all in attendance celebrated Mass. The site of the landing is marked today with a 200 foot high cross, erected in 1965 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the city’s founding.
This year the role of Menendez will be portrayed by Mario V. Hugas, Jr., a thirteenth generation native of St. Augustine. A charter member of the Los Floridanos Society, Hugas is a descendent of both the Solana and Sanchez families, two of St. Augustine’s original families. Hugas will be joined by a lifelong friend, Sterling Hart, who will portray Menendez’s second-in-command. Hart, a retired American Airlines pilot, grew up next door to Hugas on Marine Street.
Few know more about the city’s first days than Dr. Kathleen A. Deagan, who has long been associated with archeological research in St. Augustine including work at the grounds of the Mission Nombre de Dios. The morning program will include remarks by Dr. Deagan, who is currently the Distinguished Research Curator of Historical Archeology for the Florida Museum of Natural History located in Gainesville, Florida.
The Mission Nombre de Dios is located at 27 San Marco Avenue. The event is open to the public and free parking is available at the site.
It’s been said that if St. Augustine lasts for 1,000 years, then at 440 it’s about time for a mid-life crisis.
Starting at 5:00pm St. Augustine’s Birthday Celebration moves to the heart of St. Augustine, the Plaza de la Constitución for fun and rock ‘n roll with Mid-Life Crisis, one of the most requested bands from the highly popular summer program Concerts in the Plaza.
Mid-Life Crisis is a dynamic, high-energy musical experience blending the best of rock & roll, rhythm & blues, jazz, pop, and country into an unbeatable entertainment value for all ages. As they have proven in numerous appearances in the Plaza, Mid-Life Crisis is fun for everyone.
During intermission, St. Augustine’s Royal Family will cut the traditional birthday cake and serve portions 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 includes Deborah Eugenia Baker as Queen Mariana, Jack Crafton as King Juan Carlos, and Wendy Hill as Princess Margarita Maria.
Those attending the concert are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited in the Plaza.
Members of the San Agustin Garrison march into place in front of Government House, site of the weekly Changing of the Guard reenactment.
All summer long, visitors to St. Augustine have the chance to experience the sights and sounds of St. Augustine’s 18th Century Spanish soldiers in the reenactment ceremony Changing of the Guard. Performed on Saturday nights throughout the summer, the final performance will be on Saturday, September 3 at 7:00pm, immediately following the Mid-Life Crisis performance in the Plaza.
The Changing of the Guard depicts an event that would happen at the end of every day in the little colonial city of St. Augustine in 1740. Having secured the gates of the walled-town for the night, the troops are dismissed for the night, but not before their replacements arrive and are ready to take over the duty of guarding Government House, the home of the Spanish Governor and the seat of power. The commanding officer inspects weapons and equipment before ordering them to take over for the guards already on duty. The retiring soldiers, finished with their duties for the day are ordered to clear their weapons, and with the command "Disparen," the ceremony ends with a resounding blast of musket fire.
The Changing of the Guard takes place in front of Government House, situated on the Plaza de la Constitucion. Spectators are invited to take lots of photographs and to remain after the reenactment as participants will answer questions about the life in St. Augustine in the year 1740.
For complete details on St. Augustine’s Birthday Celebration, call 904.825.1004.