By Mallory Hopkins | firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Augustine, the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement in the continental United States hit another huge milestone last weekend. From custom-made firework routines to African drumming numbers complete with dancers, the 450th anniversary of the founding of the city had it all.
Laura Stevenson, director of College Relations at Flagler College, said the aspect that made the anniversary successful was that “there was something for everyone with the music and the history and the events, and it was something for residents to get exited about.”
Tuesday, Sept. 8, was the anniversary of the official ‘Landing Day’ in St. Augustine, and the city had been planning the anniversary events since 2012. There were an estimated 33,000 people downtown Friday night, and 50,000 people Saturday night for the fireworks and other events. Parking was an obvious concern in a city where it is an issue on a regular basis, at least speaking from a Flagler students’ standpoint.
However, the whole community pitched in and offered up the space they had and donated all the proceeds to non-profits, such as the Boys and Girls Club. The city even made a shuttle available to the attendants of the anniversary, which greatly decreased downtown traffic and potential jams caused by the Lions Bridge being closed as well as a few side streets. “It was a pretty peaceful weekend for how many people there were,” said the St. Augustine Police Department’s Mark Samson. “We made a few alcohol-related arrests, but besides that everything went well.”
Stevenson was responsible for keeping the students and faculty informed regarding the events of the anniversary. She said that during the city’s last big event, Mumford & Sons, a lot of locals left to avoid the commotion, but she did her best to encourage residents to stay and get involved.
Cameron Brown put together a scavenger hunt where participants had to go to every free concert event and post an Instagram picture with a specific Hashtag. The winners of the hunt won $1,565 in credit to the legacy bookstore located on campus.
She also helped with the fashion show that was held in the rotunda in Flagler College’s main and famous building: Ponce De Leon. It showcased St. Augustine’s Gilded Age, which Stevenson thought was fitting because “The whole point is to celebrate all 450 years of St. Augustine.”
Samson pointed out that: “The benefit is the exposure the city was able to gain from this—sheds a new light on what we’re doing here—the Spanish era is totally different, people seem to enjoy the difference.”