SAINT AUGUSTINE – The 454th anniversary of the founding of this old city will be celebrated Sept. with a day-long celebration on the grounds of the Mission of Nombre de Dios and Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. The day begins with a 10 a.m. landing of Menendez and his party on the Mission grounds. Cannon and musket salutes echoing from the FOY park will mark the historic re-enactment. Participants in the landing will be led by the Historic Florida Militia’s Men of Menendez and the St. Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation Chalupa.
The Menorcan Cultural Society, Los Floridanos and the Royal Family, are also expected to participate. All will be in period dress. The Royal Family represents the ruling family in Spain in 1672, the year construction was begun on St. Augustine’s Castillo de San Marcos. That trio is selected yearly by its sponsoring organization, The Easter Week Festival and is composed of heritage natives of the city.
Following the landing, a Catholic Mass will be conducted at 11 a.m. at the Rustic Altar on the Mission grounds, with the Most Rev. Felipe J. Estevez, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine, as principal celebrant. The Bishop is following in the footsteps of Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, who conducted the first Parish Mass on the Mission grounds in 1565.
PROCESSION TO THE PARK
At 1 p.m. a procession will make its way from the Mission to the Fountain of Youth Park, and it is here where those attending the day’s festivities can witness, at 1:30 p.m., re-enactors partaking of the First Thanksgiving meal. Visitors will not be invited to sample the food, but, as in previous years, it is expected that food will be available for purchase from participating vendors. That first meal shared by the Timucuans and the Spanish , explains Brian Bowman, a longtime member of the Men of Menendez, would have been a combination of Indian and Spanish dishes.
There is no admission charge at the Mission. Regular admission fees are requested at the FOY park. The Mission is located at 101 San Marco Avenue, 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.
Joining of the two attractions to observe St. Augustine’s founding has been a tradition for several years, Joanna Stark, Mission director, explained last year, with the exception of 2017, when Hurricane Irma made landfall here on the anniversary date.
As is the tradition as well, an encampment and regularly scheduled weapons demonstrations are expected to be located on the FOY park grounds. And, at about 9 a.m. Sept. 7, the re-enactors are expected to make preparations at cannon emplacement and the watchtower.