Viva Florida 500 Week Kick-Off At Florida Capitol

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

Associated Press Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida officials plan a series of events to commemorate the first wave of European visitors to the state's beaches half a millennium ago.

Events starting this week are part of a statewide campaign called Viva Florida 500 to mark the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de Leon's exploration in Florida.

Some rarely seen historical documents will be on public display Thursday through Saturday in the state Museum of Florida History. Documents include Florida's original 1838 Constitution and a 1586 map of Sir Francis Drake's West Indian voyage.

Floridians will get to see a replica of a Spanish galleon that was part of the West Indies fleet. The ship will make port calls in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Cape Canaveral and St. Augustine from mid-April to early June.

Press Release: Sachs Media Group

On or around April 2, 1513, Juan Ponce de León became the first recorded European to arrive on Florida's shores or anywhere else in the current United States of America.

About Viva Florida 500

Viva Florida 500 is a statewide initiative led by the Florida Department of State, under the leadership of Governor Rick Scott, to highlight the 500 years of historic people, places and events in present-day Florida since the arrival of Juan Ponce de León to the land he named La Florida in 1513. While Florida's Native American heritage dates back more than 12,000 years, Spain's claim in 1513 began a new era in a place where the world's cultures began to unite and transform into the great nation we know today as the United States of America. The Viva Florida 500 commemoration is ongoing throughout 2013, and includes more than 300 events statewide. For more information, visit .

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