Reenactment of Ponce de León's landing marks Florida's 500th

Reenactment of Ponce de León's landing kicks off Florida's 500th birthday

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MELBOURNE BEACH, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -
Florida reached a significant milestone this year, marking the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de León's arrival along the Sunshine State's east coast.   The state is celebrating the historical moment through a series of events, collectively known as Viva 500.

On Tuesday in Melbourne Beach, the real place where Ponce de León landed, according to organizers, several gathered for what was billed as the first big celebration of Viva 500.  But because of missteps and mistakes, the event fell well short of expectations.

"St. Augustine is celebrating the first city, obviously, but um, we are celebrating the landing... the discovery of Florida," said Isabel Wright with United Third Bridge.

The celebration, which was years in the planning, called for a beach reenactment of the landing, but many of those who attended decided to leave when ponce himself, showed up an hour-and-a-half late.

But Ponce finally arrived, and the reenactment resumed.   There were other unannounced snags in the celebration, such as a military flyover that was scrubbed because of sequester. 

The most disappointing news, for many, was the cancellation of a dedication ceremony for a life-size $65,000 dollar statue of the Spanish conquistador.  The organizer, Sam Lopez, apologized and promised Ponce will take his place on a pedestal.

"We are going to see to it that it's done correctly, in a timely manner, and you know, 2013 is not over yet."


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