Thursday, October 28, 2021


A yearlong celebration commemorating the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s discovery of Florida begins on Jan. 8 when the Board of Collier County Commissioners present proclamations to the consuls general of Spain, France, and Great Britain in recognition of the three European powers that once claimed and governed Florida.

Accepting proclamations will be Christina Barrios, consul general of Spain, Gael de Maisonneuve, consul general of France, and Christopher Wade, Great Britain’s regional director consul to the United States. Also accepting will be Ana Zabia, curator of the Museum of America in Madrid and Bridgette van den Hove-Smith representing the Big Cypress Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The proclamations will be presented at 9:00 a.m. at the Board of County Commissioners chambers, Collier County Government Center, 3299 Tamiami Trail East, 3rd Floor, Naples.

Viva Florida 500 is a yearlong celebration throughout Florida commemorating the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s journey and the first recorded landing of European explorers on the North American mainland. Although Florida’s cultural history dates back more than 12,000 years to the Native American groups that were its first discoverers, Spain’s claim to La Florida in 1513 was a milestone that began a new chapter in Florida’s unique history.

The public and press are invited to meet the consuls general on Jan. 8 at 2:00 p.m., at the Naples Depot Museum, 1051 Fifth Avenue South, Naples. Residents and visitors are also invited to explore and experience the rich heritage and cultures of Southwest Florida through a yearlong offering of special exhibitions, programs, demonstrations and events at each of the Collier County Libraries and Collier County Museums. For more information visit or call (239) 252-8476.

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