St. Augustine's 450th - 1 year later

Jessica clark reports. 9/8/2016

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla.—One year ago on Sept. 8, St. Augustine commemorated its 450th anniversary.

Fast forward to now and the effects from being in the national and international spotlight still linger.

At the Spanish Dutch Convoy store on St. George Street in downtown St. Augustine, you can still buy a shirt created for the 450th birthday. In bold type, the words "Party like it's 1565" are on the shirt. 

One year later, Michelle Vijgen, owner of the Dutch Convoy, still sells at least one of these shirts each day.

Thinking about the 450th festivities, she said, "Gosh, is was so much fun. Such a great celebration. The energy was great. The people were great. It was so impressive to see the city pull off an amazing event."

Besides city pride, City Manager John Regan said there are also some lasting legacies from the 450th, some of them created in preparation for the commemoration such as "the St. Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation that built the chalupa and is continuing to do their work to preserve maritime history. Also the relationship we have with El Galeon. The rebuilding of the city in a European style with the downtown streets rebuilt, and the seawall and Aviles Street."

Tourism also boomed. One million more people poured into the county last year.  Many business owners now say they've seen fewer tourists this year.

Regan noted, "The 450th was a tremendous vehicle to promote our community and it showed in tourism numbers. So we're finding our equilibrium now."

Free concerts dotted the city during the 450th festivities. This year, community leaders have worked to recreate that concert feel with the Sing Out Loud Festival. It has been described as the largest free music festival the county has ever seen.

Many people who live and work in St. Augustine say the 450th's did more than define St. Augustine as a tourism destination. It actually created a sense of community and pride.

Vijgen said, "I think it was great for us to showcase who we are as a community. People from outside the community also walked away happy that there were here. And I think it inspired them to come back. And it also reminded people why they love to live here."

(© 2016 WTLV)


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