Protesters and Processionals: St. Augustine's 450th birthday | News

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Protesters and Processionals: St. Augustine's 450th birthday
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ID=71907440ST. AUGUSTINE — Protesters did their best to mar the experience for celebrants of St. Augustine's 450th birthday party Tuesday morning.

The city turned 450 at 8 a.m. sharp, but the real festivities began around 9 a.m. with the reenactment of Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés arrival on the shores of what would become St. Augustine way back in 1565.

And while you couldn't get away from the protesters - they followed the processional every step of the way, stood outside the Cathedral Basilica downtown, and even tried to intercept Menéndez's boat during the reenactment - they were hardly the highlight of the day.

St. Augustine Police reportedly arrested two protesters - and Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission arrested four protesters and recovered a stolen canoe.

The protesters were protesting - if you're curious - what they call the genocide of the native population after Menéndez landed in Florida. They believe the celebration of the city's history is ignoring the atrocities committed.

ID=71884822During the reenactment they were in floaties, a kayak, and a canoe.

During the processional they ran around Menéndez and the other reenactors chanting something about 'Resist 450.'

Needless to say, they were universally despised by the crowd. Not a single person seemed to want to even give them the time of day.

While the reenactment took place - and the protesters were screaming to be heard over the actual event - many people jeered and catcalled the protesters. 'Losers!', 'Get a job!' and 'Go home!' - people did not like what some called 'kids' interrupting their fun.

And really, they were only there to disrupt.

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Most people made a point to actually enjoy the event - and it was quite enjoyable. There were actors dressed in garb from the time, there were bishops and priests in traditional robes, huge crowds of people, marching bands, free water (which was very important) and the general atmosphere involved in a once-in-a-lifetime event: that you were a part of something big.

St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States. It's been around since 1565! That's a full 211 years longer than the country's been around.

And the people sure knew how to celebrate. The weekend saw concerts - cake! - and over 80,000 people walking through the historic downtown.

The final day of commemoration, Tuesday, was met with a festive, but solemn attitude.

Menéndez kept a chipper attitude, and make jokes throughout the mile-long walk from the Mission Nombre de Dios to the Cathedral Basilica.

Even though the day was a work day - the crowds were huge! After all, how often does your home town turn 450-years-old? That's 164,359 days!

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While the city may be sinking (or at the least, its drainage system needs work), if the past five days' festivities are anything to go by, the city intends to stay for another 450 years. A few structural problems won't be putting any dents in the city's storied past, or its promising future.

And Menendez's favorite joke to shout to protesters? "You'll be here for the next one!"

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Jacob Rodriguez follows 450th birthday parties very closely. Next up is Sante Fe's birthday in 2057. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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