Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The City of St. Augustine is well on its way to pulling off a grand celebration for the Nation. The First America - 450th Commemoration of the founding of the City and other important events will be happening in the next few years. This morning the City Commission held its third workshop to discuss a program to commemorate the following historical events: Ponce de Leon's first sighting of Florida in 1513, almost 500 years ago; Pedro Menendez' founding of St. Augustine in 1565, almost 450 years ago; the Civil Rights Act passed by Congress in 1964 almost 50 years ago. All of these important St. Augustine commemorations will be celebrated over three years in St. Augustine between 2013 and 2015.

City Commissioners and a full room of interested citizens in the Alcazar Room of City Hall listened to six presentations by people helping the City plan the commemorations. Dana St. Claire and Jamie Alvarez, the City's 450th point people on staff, discussed the new 450th website, the strategic plan and First America programs, and national, state and local organizations interested in participating in the events.

Don Wallace, on the City's 450th Steering Committee, discussed creating the First America Foundation, a non-profit corporation to undertake financing, program development, and marketing of the Commemoration under a contract with the City.

John Regan, City Manager, discussed development of a commemorative coin, stamp, Florida license plate and a merchandising campaign as well as assessment of facilities for exhibition space for local and national exhibitors.

Bill Leary, covering government affairs for the Steering Committee, reported on appointments to the Federal 450th Commission. The head of the Department of the Interior, Secretary Salizar, is expected to come to St. Augustine for the roll out and announcement of appointments in September. Leary also recommended that the City Commission or its Foundation develop business plans for each of the major programs and activities.

The City Commissioners had many questions for the presenters. Input from the public will take place at the next workshop immediately preceeding the next City Commission meeting. Be there and be a part of this important and exciting time for our City, the oldest continuously occupied European City in the country, something definately to celebrate on a national scale!

Written by Toni Wallace, FPAN NE

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