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St. Augustine Kicks Off 450th Commemoration At Casa Monica

Casa Monica Hotel
The Casa Monica Hotel in St. Augustine.

St. Augustine kicked off what it’s calling the party of a lifetime Tuesday.

It’s the 450th anniversary of the founding of the country’s oldest city.

The week-long celebration is projected to bring in tourists from around the world.

City officials dodged a bullet when Tropical Storm Erika dissipated before making its projected landfall on the First Coast.

The storm could’ve driven away the throngs of international tourists expected to descend on the city for the week’s festivities.  

At the Casa Monica Hotel Tuesday director of the commemoration Dana Ste. Claire said the total economic impact of the celebration is hard to predict.

But most visitors probably won’t travel very far to be part of the party.

“A principal component of our audience will be our excursionary audience — our 'daytrippers,'” he said. “They come as far away as Southern Georgia, Tallahassee, Dade County, Tampa. We even have folks that are coming up from Monroe County that are here for a day.”

Starting Wednesday in St. Augustine, street festivals, live music and historical exhibits will be available free to the public, culminating with the reenactment of the city’s founding on Tuesday, Sept. 8. 

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.