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Contact: Brittany Lesser

Florida Department of State Announces Viva Florida 500 Participation in all of Florida’s 67 Counties

Tallahassee, Florida –

Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced statewide participation in the yearlong Viva Florida 500 commemoration, with all 67 counties in Florida reporting a Viva Florida 500 event or activity taking place during 2013. Events or activities that raise the attention of the state’s history, cultural heritage and natural resources during the 500 year anniversary since the landing of Juan Ponce de León are all considered part of Viva Florida 500.

"The vision of Viva Florida 500 is realized today as each county announces participation in at least one event this year to mark the anniversary of the naming of our state," said Secretary of State, Ken Detzner. "This goal was reached with the assistance of our many statewide partners including libraries, cultural organizations, universities, cities/municipalities, historic sites and museums. Viva Florida 500 distinctively displays the rich cultural history of our state as a whole."

To date, more than five hundred Viva Florida 500 events and activities have occurred and many more are planned for the remainder of the year. The 2013 anniversary year was kicked off on New Year’s Eve with the “Big Orange” drop in Miami, which was renamed La Gran Naranja in recognition of Spain’s presence 500 years ago. Events held throughout the state include festivals, exhibitions, reenactments, time capsules, culinary demonstrations, concerts and lectures, among many other activities, providing a comprehensive overview of the many different people, places and cultural achievements that have significantly contributed to Florida’s development.  In addition to the diverse events, there are at least 40 resolutions, proclamations or other official recorded proceedings from the city, state and national level.

Upcoming Viva Florida 500 Exhibits and Events

Don Pedro Menéndez and the Founding of St. Augustine (St. Augustine) - Four hundred and forty-eight years ago, in September 1565, Admiral Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés stepped ashore on Matanzas Bay and founded St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest, continuously occupied, European city, port, and parish in the continental United States. On September 7, the annual, historical reenactment of Menéndez' landing and anniversary commemorations will be held at Mission Nombre de Dios in St. Augustine.

Charting the Land of Flowers: 500 Years of Florida Maps (Tampa) - Featuring the most comprehensive exhibition of Florida cartography ever presented, Charting the Land of Flowers traces six centuries of Florida history, bringing together 150 maps from museum and library collections around the world, many of which will be on view to the public for the first time. September 21, 2013 through February 16, 2014. Visit:

Inaugural Thundering Drums Native Gathering (Hampton) – Experiencethe power of Thundering Drums at the inaugural United Urban Warrior Society's Thundering Drums Native Gathering, September 27-29 in Hampton, Florida. The event will feature a native drum competition, traditional music, dancing, authentic Indian artists, food vendors, and native history. This is an inter-tribal gathering, to which all are invited. Visit:

Annual Wings and Wildflowers Festival (Tavares) - Festival-goers will learn about the charismatic Florida Scrub-Jay and the unique Florida scrub habitat. Specialty field trips will be offered to area preserves and pristine public lands. Unique birding programs will be available by kayak, pontoon boats and seaplanes. Lake County is a premier birding location and this festival to enhance awareness and appreciation of Lake County. October 4 -6, 2013. Visit:

Springs Eternal: Florida's Fragile Fountains of Youth Exhibition (Gainesville) – A series of photographs from environmental photographer John Moran, chronicling the story of our springs—their beauty, ecology, and the wide diversity of people who are drawn to them. This exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History also focuses on the reality that many of our springs are in decline, their flow diminished because of groundwater over-pumping and long-term rainfall deficit. The exhibit will be on display through December 15. Visit:

Native Floridians: Seminole & Miccosukee Art and Culture in 2013 (Boca Raton) - The exhibit will feature photomurals, clothing, and artifacts from the collections of Ms. Patsy West, director of the Seminole Miccosukee Archives, established in 1972, and contains over 11,000 images and artifacts. The exhibit will be on display through December 30, 2013. Visit:

Mission Artifacts of Spanish Florida (Miami) - Unique Spanish mission period artifacts, including a 17th century bronze seal stamp engraved with the likeness of Santa Catalina/St. Catherine of Alexandria excavated from the Dorian Site on Amelia Island in 1896. The seal, along with other rare Spanish artifacts will be displayed together for the first time in this signature Viva Florida 500 exhibit. On display through January 14, 2014. Visit:

For a complete listing of events and activities happening statewide, as well as more information on historic Florida sites, heritage trail guides, student lessons, a history timeline, videos and more, visit the official Viva Florida 500 website at

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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. 2013 marks 500 years of history and diverse cultural heritage in Florida – a claim no other state in America can make – and Viva Florida 500 promotes the 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 hundreds of events statewide. The goal is to promote 500 years of Florida’s history – its people, places and cultural achievements – and this important milestone in American and Florida history. Join us in celebrating the Florida we live in today! Learn more by visiting