It all started on September 8, 1565. Can you imagine what that day was like? What it was like when Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles set foot on this very spot and claimed Florida for Spain? The reaction of the native Timucuans? The celebration of the first Catholic Mass by Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza? The first Thanksgiving meal in the New World?
With the help of dedicated historical reenactors whose members dress in full, traditional Spanish garb, visitors can experience that very special day, starting with 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. After the Mass held at the Rustic Altar, the celebration continues with a grand procession, cannon and musket salutes and a Thanksgiving meal on the grounds of the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, the site of the first Spanish settlement.
Schedule of events, Saturday, September 9, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
10 a.m. | Menendez and crew land at Mission Nombre de Dios grounds, FREE
11 a.m. | Catholic Mass at Rustic Altar on Mission grounds, FREE (bring a folding chair)
12 p.m. | Procession from Mission to Fountain of Youth, FREE
1 p.m. | Reenactment of first Thanksgiving meal at Fountain of Youth, St. Johns County residents and participants admitted FREE; Regular admission: $19.95 adults, $9.95 ages 6-12, FREE for 5 and under
1– 5 p.m. | Encampment and weapons demonstrations at Fountain of Youth, Regular admission rates above apply, FREE for St. Johns County residents.
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 Founder's Day, visit here.