On April 3 Spanish Explorer Ponce de Leon will step foot on Florida's shore 500 years to the day of his original discovery of La Florida.
St. Augustine, Florida will mark the day with a full-fledged colorful re-enactment of the landing of Ponce de Leon and his crew, heralded with cannon fire, musket drills, a commemorative mass and the unveiling of the U.S. Postal Service's La Florida stamp recognizing Florida's 500th anniversary.
The festivities, at St. Augustine's bay front and historic downtown area, are from 9am to 1pm.
Florida's Historic Coast – St. Augustine and Ponce Vedra – remains the only documented location for Juan Ponce de Leon's 1513 voyage – a navigational fix north of today's St. Augustine and just south of Ponte Vedra Beach.
On Tuesday, April 2, at noon at the North Beach Access parking lot for Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve on AIA in Ponte Vedra Beach, a 15-foot statue of Ponce de Leon, a state historical marker and interpretive signage will be unveiled.
Five hundred years of history are being celebrated with a series of commemorative events along Florida’s Historic Coast, home to the oldest continuous European settlement in the United States. These events and activities will not only mark Florida’s 500 birthday, they will continue through 2015 when the 450th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city, will take place.
Among the events this year is the Maritime Heritage Festival from November 30 to December 8. This event will begin as Stanley Paris, the founding president and chairman of the University of St. Augustine, launches his high-tech sailing vessel on a voyage around the world. On this voyage, Paris will attempt to break the world record by sailing around the world unassisted in 150 days or less. He will also be the oldest skipper to attempt this mission at the age of 76. The festival will include new and historical boats and vessels, educational components, food, music and other entertainment.
For more information on events, activities, holiday getaways and vacation opportunities in St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches, visit www.FloridasHistoricCoast.com.
For more information about top events in Florida take a look at the Top Events USA selection of the annual main festivals and events in Florida.