Sept. 9: St. Augustine’s 452nd Anniversary celebration

From Bob Alvarez, Historic Florida Militia
On Sept 9, 2017 there will be a Founders Day Celebration like we haven’t seen in a while. Thanks to the renewed cooperation between the Mission Nombre de Dios and the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, members of the Historic Florida Militia and the entire reenactment community will recreate the events that would have occurred on both of those historic properties in September 1565.
The day’s events will start with the recreation of the Landing of Pedro Menendez de Aviles and the Founding of Saint Augustine. All events will take place at the Fountain of Youth, 11 Magnolia Ave., St. Augustine. Admission is FREE for the Founder’s Day events on September 9. Go to
A replica of a 16th century Chalupa (a 32 foot boat hand built and manned by volunteers of the Saint Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation) will carry Pedro Menendez and his commanders to the shores of the current Mission property.
The Landing will be a recreation of Menendez naming the new Spanish settlement in honor of Saint Augustine. Native Americans along with Spanish settlers will greet the landing party with the waving of flags and the firing of cannon.
The ceremony will continue with a recreation of the blessing of the new settlement by Father Lopez, an important member of the Spanish landing party.
These events will be followed by a Catholic Mass celebrated by Bishop Felipe Estéves on the very spot the first Mass, in what would eventually become the United States, was celebrated.
After the Mass, there will be time for visitors to mingle with the re-enactors for photo opportunities and to ask questions. The day’s events will continue with a procession of the reenactors and mission pilgrims from the Mission Nombre de Dios property along city streets and through the main gate of the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park.
The Fountain of Youth will be the sight of a weekend long historical encampment, one much like what would have been right on that very spot in 1565. (Re-enactors will be allowed to camp on FoY property, which has bathroom and shower facilities available, starting Thursday afternoon.)
Guests will observe re-enactors engaged in many period correct activities including the cooking of period appropriate foods that will be prepared for the day’s feast.
The recreation of the real First Thanksgiving, the one that occurred here in Saint Augustine 55 years before the Pilgrims ever stepped foot on Plymouth Rock, will then take place. After the feast, visitors and guests will once again have a chance to mingle among the living history reenactors.
As an added treat, the City of Saint Augustine will provide cake to help celebrate the occasion. The cake cutting will occur at 3:30 p.m. in the special events pavilion at the Fountain of Youth.

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