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Viva Florida 500 commemorates Florida's rich heritage and diverse cultural history through 2013

Viva Florida 500 commemorates Florida's rich heritage and diverse cultural history through 2013, a significant milestone unlike any other in the history of the United States.

In 2013, Florida will reach a significant milestone, the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de León's arrival on Florida's east coast. What makes this anniversary so unique is that Ponce de León's convoy of explorers was the first group of Europeans to document such a landing and give a name to Florida—La Florida. They were also the first recorded Europeans to explore any part of what's now the continental United States of America.

Florida's documented material history dates back more than 12,000 years to American Indians, who were the original pioneers. But Spain's claim in 1513 began a new era in human history that saw many nationalities come together as the foundation that eventually formed the United States of America. The legacy of Spanish Florida started with Ponce de León and was further established by Pedro Menéndez when he founded St. Augustine, the oldest continuously occupied settlement in North America, in 1565.

Spanish explorers weren't alone in Florida's transformation. In addition to the American Indians who were already in Florida, Spanish settlers were preceded by the French who established the military base, Fort Caroline, in 1564. The Spanish were then temporarily displaced under English rule in the late eighteenth century. Under each flag, Florida was cultivated by settlers of multiple nationalities and new communities were built. Today, a countless number of different cultures thrive together in Florida. Viva Florida 500 is about all of them and their impact on the history of Florida.

The Florida Department of State and its many partners are planning enriching events and experiences across the state. Join us in celebrating the Florida we live in today!

Click here to visit the Viva Florida 500 Website.

Programs will be added on an ongoing basis.
Please check back regularly for adult, teen and children's programs as well as special events focusing on the Viva Florida 500 celebration.

Viva Florida 500 Programs in Pinellas
Heritage Village
11909 125th Street
Largo 33774
Countywide Kick Off Event
Sunday, May 19
12:00 - 4:00pm
Crafts, storytime, food, and lecture with Special Guest, Jim Schnur (2:00 pm).

Clearwater Public Library
Main Library
(727) 562-4970

Astronomy for Everyone: Size & Scale of the Universe
January 22
6:00 pm

Dr. Kevin Manning, astrophysicist & NASA consultant, will present a space program with incredible footage and hands-on activities indoors.

The Boys of Spring: Spring Training Baseball and the Bay Area
February 25
3:00 - 4:00 pm
Ross Lamoreaux from the Tampa Bay History Center will talk about the history of spring training in the Tampa Bay area.
Life and Death at Windover: Excavations of a 7,000 year-Old Pond Cemetery
June 12
3:00 pm

Dr. Rachel Wentz, Regional Director of the Florida Public Archaeology Network will discuss her work and book entitled "Life and Death at Windover: Excavations of a 7,000 Year Old Pond Cemetery."

Clearwater Public Library
East Branch
(727) 562-4970
Before Jamestown: Europeans, Africans, and Indians in La Florida
May 11
2:00 pm
Dr. J. Michael Francis will present his Before Jamestown: Europeans, Africans, and Indians in La Florida, 1513-1607 program.

Dunedin Public Library
(727) 298-3080
Florida Ghost Hunters
January 16
6:00 pm
Preschool Book Cooks Florida Fish Program
January 18
10:30 am
Zora Neale Houston
January 22
7 pm
Florida Humanities Council scholar, Phyllis McEwen, will present a portrayal of Zora Neale Hurston. Zora's life and accomplishments truly illustrate a journey story. Born on January 7, 1891, in Notasulga, Alabama, Hurston moved with her family to Eatonville, Florida, when she was still a toddler. Zora's childhood experiences in Eatonville provided the launching pad for her prolific writing career that spanned over 30 years.
The History of Transportation in Florida
February 19
7:00 pm
Dr. Steve Noll, Professor of Florida History Studies at the University of Florida and author will present some special peeks into our state history as he tells stories that tie transportation to the state's history. The talk will be titled Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (and Steamboats too) and will include some stories from his most recent book Ditch of Dreams: The Cross-Florida Barge .
Viva Florida Teen Style
June 10
5:00 pm
Teen event celebrating Florida's 500th anniversary. (Ages 12-18)
East Lake Community Library
(727) 773-2665
Florida and the Civil War
July 13
2:00 pm
Keith Kohl, Florida historian will present a program about the Civil War and the part Florida paid in its history.
Gulf Beaches Public Library
(727) 391-2828
ext. 202
Madeira Beach: A Photographic History of the Area During the 1960s & 1970s
March 11
3:00 pm
The library will host a program on the photographic collections of Madeira Beach that are held in the library. The photographs focus on the 1960s & 1970s and were originally held in aging scrapbooks, but have been recently digitized.
Pirates and Mermaids on Treasure Island
June 11
2:00 pm
Youth services program kicking off the summer reading program at the library.
Gulfport Public Library
(727) 893-1074
Contact the library for program information.
Largo Public Library
(727) 587-6715
Greetings from Florida
November 26
10:00 am - 2:00 pm

Take a trip through history in this family program all about Florida. Families will enjoy crafts, snacks, games, and a special guest entertainer at this open house event for all ages.

Flavor of Florida
November 18
5:00 - 7:00 pm

(Teens ages 13-18) Join us for trivia, crafts, and snacks all about Florida in celebration of our state's 500th anniversary of discovery. Uncover things you never knew about the state you live in and enjoy creating a special orange treat.

Oldsmar Public Library
(813) 749-1179
History of Oldsmar
March 2
2:00 pm
Join us for a History of Oldsmar program with Jerald Beverland located in TECO Hall.
Palm Harbor Public Library
(727) 784-3332
Viva Florida 500 Display
Starting March 2
  The Viva Florida 500 Display features photographs of local Florida sites some of which were taken 100 years ago! Stop by the Adult Services Dept. frequently to see the everchanging collage. Begins March 1st.
The History of Indian Bluff Island and Wall Springs, a Century of Florida History
Recognition of Long-term Residents of Palm Harbor, Ozona, & Crystal Beach
March 2
2:00 pm
Dr. Tom Rose discusses how the Buchanan family lived on what is now known as Indian Bluff Island in the teens, 20s and 30's. What was life like without electricity or running water? How did they survive the great depression? You will learn how the children made their way to school and of the location of that school. Dr. Rose, who has written other local histories, will help you understand how to write local history. Book sale and signing will follow with all proceeds going to the North Pinellas Historical Society. Light refreshments will be served.
Attention: On the afternoon of March 2, we also want to recognize those who have lived in Palm Harbor, Ozona, and Crystal Beach for 50 years or longer. Do you qualify? Please register with staff at 727-784-3332 x 3006 by February 25th to let us know you will join us on that afternoon! Let's get Viva Florida 500 off to a great start here at Palm Harbor Library by saluting those who have helped sustain the heritage of the area!
Storytelling with Charley
March 2
1:00 pm

Bring the family and join us at the library's pergola where native octogenarian, Charley Jones, tells stories about life in Palm Harbor over the last 80+ years. From fishing and crabbing, swimming as a boy in Wall Springs, attending school at Curlew Elementary, to working in the orange groves, Charley recounts stories that only an "80 year resident" could have experienced locally firsthand.

Born a Floridian — a Floridian to this day — Charley Jones!

Caladesi Memories
April 2
6:30 pm
Terry Fortner tells the story of pioneer life on Caladesi Island as shared by her grandmother Myrtle Betz in Yesteryear I Lived in Paradise. Book sale and signing of Betz's book as well as of the Caladesi Island Cookbook will take place after the presentation.
Meet a 'Real' Florida Cowgirl
and More . . .
May 18
1:00 pm

Ms. Kimen Mitchell impersonates Lois Oxnam, a cowgirl who worked on Al Boyd's Boot Ranch back in the 1950's. As "Lois" is interviewed by Sallie Parks, we learn about the role of women in the cattle ranching industry that existed locally. Who would have known that women could compete with men in such an occupation? Rounding out the afternoon, will be the showing of "Old Florida Style: A Story of Cracker Cattle."

Registration required beginning April 18th.

Pinellas Park Public Library
(727) 541-0716
Viva Florida Teen Style
June 21
Time TBD
Teen event celebrating Florida's 500th anniversary. (Ages 12-18)
Safety Harbor Public Library
(727) 724-1525

Caladesi Island Cookbook: Recipes from a Florida Lifetime, 1895-1992
June 20
6:30 pm
Presented by Terry Fortner.
Cuban Fishing Ranchos in Tampa Bay
September 19
6:00 pm

Archaeology of Ybor City

October 17
6:00 pm
The First Thanksgiving in Florida 1565
November 21
6:00 pm
St. Pete Beach Public Library
(727) 363-9238
Viva 500 Author Talk & Book Signing
April 6
10:30 am

Author Talk and book signing with Donald H. Thompson and Carol Thompson, Egmont Key: A History

St. Petersburg Public Library, West Community Library
(727) 341-7199
How to Read a Florida Gulf Coast Beach: A Guide to Shadow Dunes, Ghost Forests and Other Telltale Clues from an Ever-Changing Coast
January 26
10:30 am
Program presented by Tonya Clayton, Marine Scientist and Author.
Seminole Community Library
(727) 394-6905
Contact the library for program information.
Tarpon Springs Public Library
(727) 943-4922
Viva Florida 500 Film Festival
1st Saturday of Each Month
11:00 am

A screening of a theatrical release or documentary film featuring Florida as a topic or locale.

Tarpon Springs by the Decades: A Stroll through our History
January 30
7:00 pm
James Schnur will tell the story of northern Pinellas County in words and images.

Check with your local library for additional programming.
For detailed program information, please call the participating library.


Pinellas Public Library Cooperative | 1330 Cleveland Street | Clearwater, FL 33755-5103 | Phone: (727) 441-8408 | Fax: (727) 441-8938