City of St. Augustine to join St. Johns County in celebration of 200th anniversary

Reenactments of Change of Authority, Flag Exchange Ceremony mark the occasion

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On Saturday, July 10, in commemoration of the 200th Anniversary of Florida becoming a United States Territory, the City of St. Augustine, in partnership with St. Johns County, University of Florida Historic St. Augustine, the Florida National Guard and Historic Florida Militia, will host a reenactment of the Change of Authority at the Governor’s House Cultural Center and Museum located in the Plaza de la Constitución.

The event begins at 11 a.m. and will be followed by a Flag Exchange ceremony at St. Francis Barracks, located at 82 Marine St.

Historic Florida Militia members and living history interpreters from New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Texas, Virginia and throughout Florida, will recreate the “Act of Transfer,” when Spain transferred possession of Florida to the United States. The living history interpreters will be dressed as Spanish and United States troops, dignitaries and townspeople, as they would have appeared in 1821. Declarations will be made from the balcony of Governor’s House, documents will be signed and keys to the city will be exchanged in the courtyard. 

Immediately following the Transfer of Authority ceremony, the living history interpreters will form a procession, including horse and carriages and mounted horses, and march to the St. Francis Barracks Parade Grounds on Marine Street where a Change of Flags ceremony will take place. The viewing public is invited to march behind the official processional to the parade grounds. 

The Change of Flags ceremony will include cannon and musket firing, the playing of the Spanish and United States national anthems, lowering of the Spanish flag and raising of the American flag. Elected officials and visiting guests will offer public remarks at this ceremony.

 In addition, starting on Friday, July 9 and continuing through Sunday, July 11, the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park will host a historical encampment with the Historic Florida Militia, offering a live glimpse into the military and civilian life of the early 19th century. Cannon and musket firing, camp life, cooking demonstrations and sword-fight demonstrations will be on display for the public to experience. 

The encampment is free and open to the public from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. with a brief closure from approximately 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday while the downtown ceremonies take place. The encampment area of the park will have its own entrance off Myrtle Avenue, but regular admission fees will apply to enter the main area of the park.

Also on Saturday, July 10, starting at 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. in the Historic Market in the Plaza de la Constitución, the City of St. Augustine presents “Meet the Menorcans,” a local group of descendants and supporters of the Menorcan heritage in St. Augustine, will set up tables and be prepared to discuss and display items pertaining to mullet net knitting, how to cook pilau, Menorcans in the territory transition, crocheting needlework, eras of Menorcan settlement in St. Augustine and subsistence gardens kept in the Menorcan Quarter.

Questions about the encampment may be directed to Historic Florida Militia at ribob2000@aol.com, and further information is available at www.hfm.club.

 For a complete listing of all 200th Anniversary Celebration events and activities in St. Johns County, go to www.SJC200.com.

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