MIAMI – St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest city in the United States, pays tribute Saturday to Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon (1460-1521), who discovered Florida in 1513.
Historical reenactments will celebrate this 5th centennial of the discovery of Florida, as will a commemorative Mass in the city’s Cathedral Basilica, where a replica of Ponce de Leon’s baptismal font, brought from Spain, has been installed.
A commemorative ceremony will take place in the Plaza de la Constitucion in St. Augustine around the statue of the Spanish explorer and conquistador.
One of the principal acts of tribute is the Fiesta of La Florida, organized by the Historic Militia of Florida and made up of a dozen non-profits staging parades and recreational activities that evoke those days 500 years ago.
A group dubbed the Men of Menendez will reenact the Spanish conquest wearing clothes of the period and bearing flags and arms of old conquistadors.
In September 1565, Adm. Pedro Menendez de Aviles landed in the Bay of Matanzas and founded St. Augustine, the oldest European city and port in what is today the United States.
Also planned for Saturday are all kinds of entertaining activities like an exhibition of folkloric dancing from Iberoamerican countries, Latin food and live music.