Florida's State Parks Commemorate Florida History

Second Seminole era US Soldier reenactors in formation, 172nd, 27th Reenactment, Dade's Battle Dade Battlefield Historic State Park, Bushnell, FL.
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Florida Department of Environmental Protection Release

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Park Service is proud to join with the Florida Department of State in commemorating 500 years of Florida history throughout 2013. Viva Florida 500 commemorates Florida's rich heritage and diverse cultural history through 2013, a significant milestone unlike any other in the history of the United States. Visitors are invited to remember Florida's rich history with first-hand experiences of the eras and events in state parks that helped make the state into what it is today: a community of many diverse cultures.

“Many of Florida’s state parks hold a piece of our state’s unique history and park staff work daily to tell the story of past cultures and events that shaped Florida,” said Donald Forgione, DEP’s Florida Park Service Director. “Through preservation and interpretation, Florida State Parks will continue to share the special history of Florida with this and future generations.”

Every week in 2013, the Florida Park Service will highlight a significant event or milestone that happened in a state park or associated with a state park on a new web page called, “Viva Florida 500 – History Notes.” At this web page, visitors can learn about Florida’s heritage through state parks and then experience it in real life by visiting that particular state park. From battle reenactments to geo-caching to homesteads of literary greats and inventors, Florida’s state parks offer a one-of-a-kind look into history.

“We are very proud to be partnering with the Florida Park Service to showcase Florida’s state parks and their influence on our state’s culture,” said Secretary of State Ken Detzner. “Viva Florida 500 is a year-long commemorative event that offers opportunities to promote Florida’s history, such the history of our state parks, in an educational and entertaining way that Floridians and visitors will enjoy.”

During 2013, the Florida Park Service will host many events that will join in the commemoration of Viva Florida 500. Visitors are encouraged to check out the events page on FloridaStateParks.org for all the events in state parks.

On Jan. 5 and 6, experience history at the 33rd reenactment of Dade's Battle at Dade Battlefield Historic State Park in Bushnell. Commemorating the 177th anniversary of the battle that started the Second Seminole War, step back in time with period soldier costumes, Seminole and Civilian camps, a Sutler Trade Fair, historic arts and crafts demonstrations, full scale cannon firing, tree cutting and barricade building, musket shooting, tomahawk throwing and primitive archery. On Dec. 28, 1835, Indian warriors ambushed 108 U.S. soldiers at this site, and only three soldiers survived. The 80-acre park protects not only a historic battlefield, but also the natural communities as they existed during the war. Learn more at Viva Florida 500 – History Notes. The event will take place Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 5 and 6 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the Battle Reenactment beginning at 2 p.m. each day. Fees are $5 per person, children under 6 free, parking $2 per vehicle.

On Jan. 19, learn about geo-caching at Cacheapalooza 7 (CP7), hosted by Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound. CP7 is a fun-filled weekend of geo-caching in the beautiful and mysterious Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Geo-caching is an outdoor recreational activity in which the participants use a GPS to hide and seek "geo-caches" or "caches," which are small waterproof containers containing a logbook where the geo-cacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name. Geo-caching is a great way to learn about the history and environment of a particular area. The event will feature 200 new, plus many existing, log-able geo-caches hidden in this diverse, 11,500-acre park. There will be traditional caches of various difficulty and terrain ratings and other types of cache hides. In honor of Viva Florida, park staff have developed a geocache puzzle that leads visitors on a hunt for clues relating to the park’s natural and cultural history. The puzzle ends at the education center where participants receive a unique Friends of Jonathan Dickinson State Park cache coin.

For additional information, please visit: http://www.cacheapalooza.org. Along with the caching, there are many other fun activities and presentations for visitors to enjoy. The event will take place Jan.19 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. beginning at the Kitching Creek Pavilion.

Learn more at the Florida State Parks Viva Florida 500 webpage.

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