st augustine founders day celebration

St. Augustine Founder’s Day

As the nation’s oldest city, St. Augustine has had lots of practice celebrating its founding.

In fact, you could say that from its very beginning, St. Augustine has been marking the day it was founded with special care and attention with the first Mass held at the very site where Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles first set foot on Florida and claimed it for Spain. He gathered with his crew and local Timucuan natives as Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza said the first Catholic mass on September 8, 1565. This day was not only a significant one in the history of what would become the United States, but also significant in the history of Christianity in America.

Since that time, St. Augustine has always celebrated Founder’s Day with pomp and circumstance and the help of dedicated historical reenactors whose members dress in full, traditional Spanish garb. Every year, visitors, pilgrims and locals alike come together to watch the reenactment of the landing, complete with chalupa boats, as Menendez and his crew step foot on the grounds of the Mission Nombre de Dios.

It’s only fitting that such a celebration is followed by a procession, cannon and musket salutes and a Thanksgiving meal, just as it was on the day of the original founding. You don’t have to be a local to appreciate the namesake of the ancient city, Saint Augustine of Hippo, whose feast day, August 28, marks the day the land was sighted. Today, scenes from the life of Saint Augustine can be viewed in the stained glass windows of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine.

St. Augustine is the oldest continually occupied settlement in the United States, predating our country's oldest colonies, Jamestown by 42 years and Plymouth by 55 years. For schedule of events and activities on Founders Day, visit here.