Contact: Bill Reynolds, 404-275-9838
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Fort Caroline National Memorial will observe the 450th Anniversary of the landing of a French naval expedition in Florida in a ceremony tomorrow at 10 a.m. The event is part of the week-long celebration of French Week in Jacksonville.
The ceremony will feature the rededication of a column that was donated in 1958 by the Daughters of the American Revolution to honor Jean Ribault, the French naval officer who led the expedition. Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown and Consul General of France in Miami Gael de Maisonneuve will make remarks. Musical selections and a poetry reading performed by local students will also be featured.
On May 1, 1562, Ribault's expedition landed at the mouth of the St. John's River, what the French called the River of May. Ribault erected a stone column bearing the coat of arms of King Charles IX to claim Florida for France. The landing led to the establishment in 1564 of La Caroline, a settlement that was initially planned for commerce, but also became a refuge for the Huguenots, French Protestants who were fleeing religious persecution. The settlement was destroyed by the Spanish in 1565.
The memorial will also conduct a "soft" unveiling of new educational exhibits at the Fort Caroline Memorial main site. The new exhibits expand the story of Fort Caroline and include a memorial to those who died during the fall of the fort.
This weekend, May 5-6, the National Park Service will conduct special living history and Junior Ranger programs at Fort Caroline. The programs will be conducted on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Sunday from noon to 3 p.m.
For more information on these programs the public can call 904-641-7155.