SAINT AUGUSTINE – The 453rd anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine will be commemorated Saturday, Sept. 8, with special events on the grounds of the Mission of Nombre de Dios and the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park.
The celebration, marking the date Sept. 8, 1565, when Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles and his men arrived on the shores of what was to become St. Augustine, begins at 10 a.m. Sept. 8, when re-enactors portraying Menendez and his party will come ashore on the grounds of the Mission, with cannon and musket salutes sounding from the Fountain of Youth. Participants in the landing ceremony will be led by the Historic Florida Militia’s Men of Menendez and the St. Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation Chalupa
A Catholic Mass follows at the Rustic Altar on the Mission grounds at 11 a.m. with Bishop Felipe Estevez officiating, following in the footsteps of Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, who conducted the first Mass on the Mission grounds 453 years ago.
At 1 p.m. a grand procession from the Mission will signal the beginning of events on the nearby grounds of the Fountain of Youth. The two historic attractions have been joining together for several years on the founding day celebrations.
On the FOY grounds this year visitors will view an encampment and regularly scheduled weapons demonstrations. Earlier in the day, at 9 a.m., the re-enactors will be making preparations at cannon emplacement and the watchtower.
A re-enactment of the First Thanksgiving dinner involving the Spanish explorers and the Timucuan Indians will be served at 1:30 p.m. at the Fountain of Youth, and although visitors will not be invited to sample the food they will be afforded the opportunity of witnessing the re-enactment of the serving of the meal and will be invited to purchase food from participating vendors.
The Men of Menendez, a 16th Century Company of the Historic Florida Militia, will partake of a dinner similar to that served in 1565. As re-enactor Brian Bowman noted last year, the food would have been a combination of Indian and Spanish dishes. Spanish dishes would have been made with food the Spaniards brought with them – garbanzo beans, salt pork, fish. The Indians would have most likely brought corn and there would have been local game involved.
The Mission is located at 27 Ocean Ave., and the FOY Park at 11 Magnolia Ave., with entrances to both off San Marco Avenue. Ample parking is available at both locations, but seating is limited at the Mission, so participants are advised to bring folding chairs.
There is no admission charge at the Mission. At FOY Park regular admission is $15 for adults; $14 for seniors; $9 for children ages 6-12; and free for children 5 and under.
St. Johns County residents, with proof of residency, receive half price admission of $7.50 for adults; $7 for seniors; $4.50 for children 6-12; and children 5 and under free.