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Contact: Chris Cate

Secretary of State Ken Detzner Joins Viva Florida 500 Partners to Announce Viva Florida 500 Week

This week, 500 years ago, Ponce de León became the first European to arrive in current U.S.A.

Tallahassee, Florida –


Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner today announced the start of Viva Florida 500 Week alongside several partners of the state's initiative to commemorate Florida's 500th anniversary, called Viva Florida 500. Today's announcements included the official launch of; a multimedia campaign that includes a 30 minute television special that will be airing statewide and an online clickable map featuring historical information, fun facts and current events; the touring schedule of a 16th Century Spanish galleon replica bound for Florida; and a three day exhibit in the Museum of Florida History featuring historic documents rarely seen by the public such as Florida's original 1838 Constitution and a Sir Francis Drake map from 1586.

"Viva Florida 500 is a year-long commemoration, but we believe it is important to draw extra attention to the week of Ponce de León's arrival because of its historical significance for our state and nation," said Secretary Detzner. "Florida is truly 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."

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. He is also responsible for giving Florida its name, calling it La Florida because of the land's lush plant life and in honor of Pascua Florida, the Eastertime Spanish Feast of Flowers taking place at the time of his arrival.

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. The Viva Florida 500 commemoration is ongoing throughout 2013, and includes hundreds of events statewide and nearly 2,000 partners.

Viva Florida 500 partners at today's announcement included VISIT FLORIDA, The Florida Lottery, Friends of the Museums of Florida History, The Florida League of Cities, The Florida Humanities Council and Sachs Media Group.

About is the official website of Viva Florida 500. The website features a calendar of Viva Florida 500 events happening statewide, historic Florida highlights, heritage trail maps, student lessons, a history timeline, videos and more. The website also offers ways to get involved in Viva Florida 500 and resources for communities or groups interested in hosting Viva Florida 500 events.

About the Viva Florida 500 Multimedia Educational Campaign

The Viva Florida 500 multimedia educational campaign is an opportunity to inform citizens and visitors alike about Florida's heritage and history – with fast-paced, entertaining and upbeat, easy-to-understand media components for citizens of all ages. The multimedia campaign includes a 30-minute television special in English and Spanish and a related series of public service announcements that will be broadcast statewide in each of Florida's key markets. As part of the multimedia educational campaign, a clickable map is also available on the website where visitors can learn about a Florida city's historical information, current events and rich cultural diversity. The multimedia campaign is made possible by the Friends of the Museums of Florida History, the Florida League of Cities and the Florida Lottery, along with Sachs Media Group who is producing the multimedia material.

"Florida strives to be a national and global leader in education," said Secretary Cindy O'Connell of the Florida Department of the Lottery. "The Viva Florida 500 multimedia campaign will help educate residents for many years to come."

"It's not often we have an opportunity to leave such an incredible legacy to our children and future generations of Floridians." said Manuel Maroño, president of the Florida League of Cities. "The Florida League of Cities is honored to play a key role in the commemoration of the state's 500th anniversary."

About the 16th Century Spanish Galleon Replica

El Galeón is a 170 foot, 495 ton, authentic wooden replica of a galleon, leaving for Florida today, that was part of Spain's West Indies fleet. It will take El Galeón about 10 days to go from Puerto Rico to Florida where the Viva Florida 500 Voyage will include call on ports in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Cape Canaveral and St. Augustine beginning April 15 and culminating June 3, as part of the state's 500th anniversary commemoration. VISIT FLORIDA is helping coordinate the tour along with Fundacion Nao Victoria. For more information about the replica galleon, contact Pam Forrester at 850.205.3839.

"Perhaps known best for our beautiful beaches and exciting theme parks, the Viva Florida 500 commemoration is providing the Florida tourism industry with an historic opportunity to expand travelers' perceptions of the state," said Will Seccombe, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA.  "By offering visitors a whole new reason to explore the Sunshine State in 2013 with events such as the upcoming arrival of El Galeon, we are continuing to increase the economic impact of travelers to Florida."

About the Department of State's Special Viva Florida 500 Week Exhibit, April 4-6

Florida Archives

Some of Florida's most historical documents that are rarely made available for public viewing will be on display from April 4-6, 2013, in the Department of State's Museum of Florida History. These documents include Florida's original 1838 Constitution and a 1586 map of Sir Francis Drake's West Indian voyage.

Museum of Florida History and Conservation Lab Tours

The Department of State's Museum of Florida History will be offering tours April 4-6 of its new permanent exhibit Forever Changed, La Florida, 1513-1821, a wide-ranging exhibit highlighting the Native American and Spanish colonial history. The Department of State's Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research will also be offering behind-the-scenes tours of its conservation lab, which is responsible for the stabilization and preservation of archaeological objects excavated from state land and waters. The lab tours will showcase artifacts encountered on Florida's archaeological sites, which range from prehistoric canoes and projectile points to Spanish shipwreck materials.

For more information about these exhibits and tours, call 850.245.6400 or go to

Other Statewide Viva Florida 500 Week Events

Monday, April 1

Art Works of the Centennial (Port Orange)– Enjoy the final day of artwork on display highlighting local Port Orange artists and showcasing historic landmarks, buildings and beautiful landscapes.

Viva Florida 500 Art Display (Fort Lauderdale) – The beauty of the sea and life below Earth's surface is nature's art. Fort Lauderdale artist Susan Clifton merges nature's beauty with graphics in her nine works of mixed media on canvas.

Viva Pensacola JazzFest 2013 (Pensacola) – This will be the biggest and most exciting Jazz Festival in Pensacola's history to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Pensacola JazzFest! This seven-day event, scheduled from April 1 through 7, 2013, is designed to be a city-wide celebration, with music in a variety of venues.

Tuesday, April 2

V Centennial Celebration of the Discovery (Melbourne Beach) – In celebration of Juan Ponce de León's arrival on Florida's shore 500 years ago, the United Third Bridge, Inc. and The Florida Puerto Rican Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Inc. have organized an array of events beginning April 2, and lasting for 3 days. The week includes Mass at Immaculate Conception Church conducted by Father Joseph A. Nolan and dedication of a statue of Juan Ponce de León.

Discovering Nature's Favorite Designs at Spanish Point (Osprey) – Nan Summers with the Discovering Nature's Favorite Designs Workshop in the Butterfly Garden at Historic Spanish Point will lead a discussion in celebration of La Florida, meaning the "land of flowers," along with a special tour of Mrs. Palmer's formal gardens guided by horticulturist Nancy Paul.

Florida 500 Fine Art Juried Exhibition (Melbourne Beach) – A juried art exhibition will be judged by Paul Wenzel, public art coordinator for the City of Orlando. The show opens for public viewing at the Melbourne Beach Library April 2, 2013.

Ponce de León 30 degree – 8' Celebration (Ponte Vedra)– At noon on April 2, 1513, it is believed by many that Ponce de León's navigators logged their ship's position at 30 degrees 8 minutes, just north of the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve's boundaries.  In honor of this legendary event, the GTM Research Reserve will unveil the new Ponce Exhibit, an educational display at their North Beach Access.

Wednesday, April 3

Juan Ponce de León Commemorative Re-enactment & Mass (St. Augustine) – Watch the re-enactment of Ponce de León's momentous landing along historic downtown St. Augustine followed by a special Catholic Mass conducted at the Cathedral Basilica, of which many church leadership will be presiding. An exact replica of the baptismal font in which Ponce was baptized will be installed in the Cathedral Basilica, to serve as a functional baptismal font for the church.

U.S. Postal Service Unveiling of La Florida Commemorative Stamp (St. Augustine)–The U.S. Postal Service will unveil the new La Florida forever stamp. The stamp commemorates the 500th anniversary of the discovery of Florida.

Thursday, April 4

African American History & Culture: Viva Florida 500 Series (Daytona Beach) – The third of five lectures in a series will help audiences gain a better understanding of how descendants of the African Diaspora contributed to the development of Florida.

Stories of Florida – Con Sabor! (Fort Lauderdale) – Our stories have never been the same since Ponce de León first arrived on our shores in 1513. Flowing seamlessly between Spanish and English, Carrie Su Ayvar chooses from her large repertoire of personal, historical and traditional Florida tales to connect the people and cultures of Florida, con un poquito de sabor Latino - with a little bit of Latin flavor.

The Native Plant Show (Kissimmee)–Florida's first all-native plant wholesale trade show will feature nearly 40 Florida plant growers from all over the state. The show provides three award-winning, native demonstration landscapes for Central, North and South Florida; two days of professional continuing education courses in the selection and use of native plants and a University of Florida research symposium on the growing and planting of native wildflowers.       

Friday, April 5

Springtime Tallahassee (Tallahassee)–Experience true Southern hospitality with one of the largest and most celebrated parades in the southeast. Enjoy local entertainment and national entertainment acts. The weekend includes: Downtown Getdown on Friday Night at 6:00 p.m.; Springtime 10K / 5K and 1 Mile at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday; and Grand Parade at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday.

New Smyrna Beach Balloon & Sky Fest (New Smyrna Beach)–The Balloon & Sky Fest, themed "The Light of Discovery" for 2013, is set for the fifth time at the New Smyrna Beach Municipal Airport on April 5-7, 2013. Located next to the 128-year-old landmark bearing the name of Florida's discoverer, the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, The Light of Discovery will shine on the thousands of people who stream through the entrance gates all weekend long, proudly commemorating 500 years of history in Florida.       

Saturday, April 6

Puerto Rico Discovers Florida Again (Tampa)–Symposium featuring the sale of 100% manufactured Puerto Rican products on April 6 at the WYNDHAM Hotel Tampa, welcoming and recognizing the new Domestic Trade agreement between Florida and Puerto Rico. The day will commemorate Florida's accomplishments old and new by focusing on the discovery of Florida by Juan Ponce de León, Puerto Rico's first Governor.

Playing Sherlock Holmes with St. Augustine History (St. Augustine)–Join noted historian and author, David Nolan, as he covers the last 35 years he has spent exploring the lesser-known byways of our past and uncovering hitherto unknown homes of Civil War generals, famous authors and important figures in civil rights history in Florida.

Calusa Stories and Kayak Lessons (Fort Myers Beach) – Experience an introductory lesson into kayaking paired with stories and exhibits of the native Calusa tribe of Florida. Join the volunteer staff on a tour of the grounds and underground exhibit at the Mound House.

Viva Florida 500 Author Program (St. Pete Beach) – Author talk and book signing with Donald H. Thompson and Carol Thompson, regarding Egmont Key: A History.

17th Annual Miami Riverday (Miami)–The free 17th annual Miami Riverday celebrates the unique heritage, culture and natural environment of the historic and widely-used Miami River. Come enjoy free Miami River boat rides, live music, historic re-enactments in the 1844 Fort Dallas and the 1856 Wagner Homestead, environmental education, children activities and much more.

1513 The Ponce de León Landing First Contact (Ponte Vedra Beach)– On Saturday, April 6, 2013, the legendary Conquistador Ponce de León will land his expedition at the Guana Reserve. The event will involve Ponce de León's modern re-enactment boat landing, historical activities, and black powder demonstrations.

For a complete list of Viva Florida 500 events, visit the events calendar at