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The City of St. Augustine remains committed to providing accessibility to all and provides for handicapped accessible parking in the city. For a map of accessible parking locations, Click Here To notify the city regarding accessibility concerns contact Todd Grant, Public Works Deputy Director, Phn: 904.825.1040, Fax: 904.209.4286, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also write City of St. Augustine, P.O. Box 210, St. Augustine, FL 32085-0210.
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On September 8, the City of St. Augustine was 446 years old, but the commemoration started a week earlier when the community gathered in the Plaza de la Constitución to share birthday cake and enjoy the last Thursday performance of this year’s Concerts in the Plaza.
It was on September 8, 1565 that Don Pedro Menendez de Avilés along with 600 voyagers stepped onshore here with the mission to stake a permanent claim on behalf of Spain by founding a city here. In honor of the saint whose feast day fell on the day he first sighted land, August 28, Menéndez named the colonial settlement St. Augustine. The landing site is known to be along the waterfront at what is today the properties of the Mission Nombre de Dios and the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park.
But the cake cutting was just the start. Commemoration events continued on Saturday September 10 at the Mission Nombre de Dios and included the colorful reenactment of the landing of Menendez and the traditional Mass.
The historical re-enactment of the landing of Menéndez was held on Saturday, September 10 starting at 10:00am at the Mission Nombre de Dios (27 Ocean Ave.). And as it was on the first founding day in 1565, the landing was just the start of a morning filled with pageantry and tradition. Vice Mayor Leanna Freeman represented the St. Augustine City Commission and read the official Founder's Day proclamation. To see the reading, click here.
The reenactment was produced with great historical accuracy by La Compañía de Santiago (The Company of St. James), a member unit of Florida Living History, Inc. This was truly as close as one could get to experiencing the sights and sounds of the day the city was founded. Immediately following the landing, as was the case in 1565, Mass was celebrated at an outdoor altar on the site. This year the Mass was celebrated by Father Terrance Morgan.
Following Mass, Dr. Michael Gannon, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Florida and Knight Commander of Spain’s Order of Isabella the Catholic, offered a lecture on the founding of the city entitled The Altar Was Older Than the Hearth. The lecture is funded by a grant from the Florida Humanities Council through the National Endowment for the Humanities. The lecture was at the Prince of Peace Church located on the grounds of the Mission Nombre de Dios.
Other events related to the commemoration of the founding of the city scheduled were held at the at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. For that schedule, click here.
A traditional part of St. Augustine's commemoration of the anniversary of its founding is the ceremonial cutting of the community birthday cake. This year the cake cutting was held just prior to the start of the last Thursday night installment of the 2011 Concerts in the Plaza on September 1.
The ceremony was presided over by Mayor Joe Boles who was joined by Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline.
An important part of the tradition is the participation of St. Augustine’s Royal Family, three heritage natives selected each year from among St. Augustine’s oldest families to represent the Spanish Royal Family in 1672, the year the Castillo de San Marcos was commissioned. This year’s Royal Trio are Suzanne Hazen as Queen Mariana, Jaime Blevins as Princess Margarita and James Louis Solona III as King Carlos. Previous commitments prevented James Solona from participating, so the role of King Carlos was portrayed by Timothy Colee who served in that role in 2009.
After the ceremony, hundreds of pieces of cake were served and enjoyed along with the music of the Old City Farmers. The concert was the last Thursday night concert in the summer long series, but the closing performance is on Labor Day, September 5, with an afternoon program from 1:00pm-5:00pm produced by the St. Augustine Jazz Society. Concerts in the Plaza, made possible through funding from the City of St. Augustine and the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council, will return for its 22nd season on Memorial Day, May 28, 2012.
The place where every visit to St. Augustine should begin is at the St. Augustine & St. Johns County Visitor Information Center offering helpful guides, connections to various tours, and lots of clean rest rooms. Adjacent to the Visitor Information Center is the Historic Downtown Parking Facility. With its nearly 1,200 parking spaces, the facility has become the preferred parking location in the city.
For directions to the Visitor Information Center and parking facility and the Mission Nombre de Dios see the links below.
• St. Augustine & St. Johns County Visitor Information Center & parking facility
• The Mission Nombre de Dios
To better plan your visit to St. Augustine and St. Johns County, call 800.653.2489 or follow this link to Florida's Historic Coast.