Founders Landing Day
Fountain of Youth
Mission Nombre de Dios
Founders Day celebration
Pedro Boat Landing
St. Augusting sunrise
Founders Landing Day
Fountain of Youth
Mission Nombre de Dios
Founders Day celebration
Pedro Boat Landing
St. Augusting sunrise

Founder’s Day Marks First Thanksgiving

St. Augustine celebrates with historical re-enactments, a mass, procession, meals and more.

On September 8, 1565, more than 450 years ago, Admiral Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés stepped ashore from Matanzas Bay on behalf of Spain and founded St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest continuously occupied European city in the continental United States. Each year, the city of St. Augustine marks this momentous occasion with Founder’s Day events, historical re-enactments, a mass, procession, meals and more.
 
Menéndez was joined by soldiers and sailors and more than 100 civilians. Married men and women, artisans, tradesmen and children made up the settlement at the Timucuan village of Seloy. Kneeling and kissing the cross carried by Father Lopez, Menéndez and his officers swore allegiance to God and King and proclaimed this place as “St. Augustine.”
 

The Real First Thanksgiving

The landing party celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving and, afterward, Menéndez laid out a meal to which he invited as guests the native Timucuan Indians who occupied the site. The Thanksgiving at St. Augustine was celebrated 56 years before the Puritan-Pilgrim Thanksgiving at Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts, which makes this the first Thanksgiving in the continental U.S between Europeans and native peoples.
 
Founder’s Day is celebrated in St. Augustine each year on the Saturday closest to Sept. 8. The celebration starts in the morning at the Mission Nombre de Dios with a re-enactment of the landing of Pedro Menendez and his crew and a Catholic Mass of thanks and celebration. After the Mass, re-enactors travel from the Mission to the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, the original location of Menendez’ first settlement of St. Augustine.
 
From 1-5 p.m., there will be living history demonstrations at the park. A blessing and reenactment of the first Thanksgiving occurs as Timucuans, nobles, priests, Captains and commoners celebrate the successful founding of the settlement four and a half centuries ago.

General admission into the Fountain of Youth is $15. For more information, call 616-990-5456 or visit www.hfm.club/garrison/cog.