Pensacola celebrates 450 years For 450 days
To commemorate its 450th anniversary, Pensacola will celebrate for 450 days from May 23, 2008 to August 15, 2009. Pensacola was founded in 1559, six years before St. Augustine.
Celebrate Pensacola, Inc., a non-profit organization managing the celebration, is planning numerous special events and programs such as parades, art exhibits, heritage walks, historical reenactments, educational programs, a Spanish wine festival and possibly a visit from Spanish royalty. The 450th celebration will culminate on August 15, 2009 with a national birthday celebration.
The public is invited to a kick-off celebration on May 23 at 5 p.m. The street party will be held on Palafox Place surrounding the fountain at the Escambia County Courthouse. The all-American event will feature free hot dogs, Coca- Cola and music by the Pensacola Civic Band, and Celebrate Pensacola will unveil its plans for the 450-day celebration.
In addition, the signature 450th poster will be unveiled, and Jay Clune and Margo Stringfield will discuss their new book Historic Pensacola. Attending dignitaries representing Spain include Santiago Cabanas, consul general of Spain in the United States, and Maria Davis, honorary vice consul of Spain.
"We are proud to be North America's First Major European Settlement, and we look forward to sharing our special heritage with residents and visitors," said Dr. Coy Irvin, chairman of Celebrate Pensacola, Inc. "It's hard to find another place that tops Pensacola - we have beautiful beaches, strong community involvement and the longest history of any city in the United States. We can't wait to share our story with the rest of the world."
Spanish sailor Don Tristan de Luna arrived in Pensacola on August 15, 1559. Shortly after establishing the settlement, a hurricane destroyed supplies, eventually causing the Spanish to flee the area and not return until the 1600s. In 1698, Fort San Carlos de Austria became the first permanent settlement in Northwest Florida. Remains of the fort can be found at Pensacola Naval Air Station. Pensacola is proud of its rich heritage, historically significant events and landmarks.
* Having been ruled by Spain, France, Britain, the Confederacy and the United States, Pensacola has earned the nickname City of Five Flags.
* Old Christ Church in Historic Pensacola Village is the oldest church in Florida still on its original site.
* Emmanuel Point II is the second-oldest ship wreck in the country. Discovered in 2007 by University of West Florida
students, the ship belonged to Spanish sailor Don Tristan de Luna expedition, dating back to 1559.
* St. Michaels Cemetery is one of the oldest extant cemeteries in the state of Florida, with burials dated back to the late 1700s.
* Pensacola was the original capital of Florida, and it was here that Gov. Andrew Jackson changed flags with Spanish Governor Jose Callava, bringing West Florida under the control of the United States.
* The first Catholic Mass in the United States was held on Pensacola Beach shortly after the sailors arrived in August 1559.
Find more facts and information about the 450th at CelebratePenacola.com. For more information about the Pensacola Bay Area or to request a visitor guide, call the Pensacola Bay Area Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800) 874 - 1234 or (850) 434-1234 or go online to www.VisitPensacola.com.