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Escambia County celebrated its 200th anniversary on Saturday.

A sunrise prayer “Mvskoke Mekusvpkv” by the Santa Rosa Creek tribe began the festivities, followed by a formal program, exactly 200 years after the exchange of the Spanish and American flags.

For a photo gallery, click here.

“A wide range of events took place this weekend to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Florida’s transition from a colony of a foreign European country to a territory of the United States,” said the committee chair. of the 200th Commission, Dr Judy Bense. “There was something for kids, teens and adults of all ages. Our program included patriotic music, statements from current leaders, a flag raising, a children’s scavenger hunt, live reenactments of the battles of Pensacola, and live performances by Hispanic and African American dancers. The significance of the historic moment of transition on the same day and in the same place as it occurred two centuries ago, right here in Pensacola, was embedded in every event.

Collier Merrill, President of the UWF Historic Trust, said, “We are proud to have organized such a celebration for this important event in Florida history. Like most port towns, Pensacola has many diverse communities, all of which come together to honor our past, present and future. Our rich history continues to be a highlight of our community, a wonderful addition to our beautiful weather and white sandy beaches. Special thanks to the Commission Co-Chairs, Dr Judy Bense and Margo Stringfield, as well as to the entire Commission and Events Committee. We were honored to have Secretary Laurel Lee, Senator Rick Scott and guests be a part of today’s historic event, helping us celebrate Florida’s Territorial Celebration.

Pastor Freddie Nathan Tellis said, “I want to congratulate the county on my youth and my retirement on its 200th anniversary. Escambia County has seen historic shifts in public policy, educational gains, and sports heroes like no other county I know of. My military service has taken me to many states and counties across this country and the old adage “there is no place like home” holds true for me. “

Chief Dan “Sky Horse” Helms of the Santa Rosa Creek Indian Tribe said, “You have just heard the Muscogee language spoken openly and publicly here in Pensacola for the first time in 191 years.” He said in translation: Hello. How are you. I am the Sky Horse Chief. I have deer skins that I want to trade.

“The Indian Removal Act of 1830 not only prohibited our language from being spoken, but it would also have prohibited our Muscogee blessing at sunrise. This great city was founded by people of varied heritage and culture. They come together in harmony and unity of purpose. This goal was to create a better life for themselves and their descendants.

UWF President Dr Martha Saunders said: “Congratulations to everyone who made this celebration a reality. It was an honor to collaborate with our community for this bicentennial celebration. UWF takes great pride in its role in preserving the eight-acre area known as Historic Pensacola in the heart of our vibrant downtown.

US Senator Rick Scott said, “It’s great to be here. We’re going to put one of my Navy hats in the time capsule signed by my wife, Ann, and me. Congratulations, it’s wonderful to be here on a beautiful, warm day in Pensacola.

Florida Representative Michelle Salzman said, “As a native of the community, it is a privilege for me to be a part of this historic cultural occasion. Trade by trade has made Pensacola a viable colony, and as we move past 200 years, we must continue to focus on diverse and sustainable growth while continuing to respect our heritage and history. “

“I couldn’t be prouder to celebrate Escambia County’s 200th anniversary,” said Florida Rep. Alex Andrade. “Celebrating our history, warts and everything in between, is the only way to keep moving forward without losing what makes our region, our state and our country so special.”

Captain Timothy Kinsella said: “There has been a continuous military presence on the grounds of NAS Pensacola since Fort San Carlos de Austria was built here in 1698. Since Florida entered the Union in 1821 The United States Army had a continuous presence in Pensacola through the Navy Yard, Fort Barrancas, and the Navy’s first air base. During these 200 years of sometimes tumultuous, but often joyful history, the city of Pensacola and the military community have been inextricably linked, and it is our privilege to carry this legacy forward into the future.

“Florida is rich in history and culture, and the commemoration of the Territorial Bicentennial in Pensacola inspires us to reflect on the lasting legacies of all who made Florida their home,” said Florida Secretary of State Laurel M . Lee. “I am honored to have participated in the commemoration of this major historic turning point in Florida history and look forward to continuing to preserve and share the history and heritage of our great state.”

Florida Senator Broxson said, “When I made the proclamation in the Senate, I told the story of Escambia County. There was a battle between Escambia and St. Johns County at one point that we alternated which would be the capital each year, Pensacola or St. Augustine. We decided to meet at a central location and head to Tallahassee to be our capital. Dr. Bense legitimized that Pensacola is really the oldest colony in the state of Florida and not St. Augustine. What a great time this is. What an honor to be here. My family has been here for over 200 years and many of your families, the streets are named after them. On behalf of the Florida State Senate, I wish to deliver this proclamation to Dr. Bense and thank you, Pensacola, thank you Escambia, thank you Florida for such a beautiful place to live.

Escambia County President Bender said: “Although Escambia County has grown with development and population over the past 200 years, in many ways it has remained the same. We still enjoy the clear water that gave it its name, the best beaches in the world and the abundant marine life. For 200 years, there have been continuous improvements to provide efficient and responsive services that improve our quality of life, meet common needs and promote a safe and healthy community. I am proud to call Escambia County my home, and I hope you are too. It’s nice to take the time to take a break and celebrate how far we’ve come in 200 years!

“This is an exciting day to celebrate the rich history of Pensacola, Escambia County and the State of Florida, and to celebrate all who have come before us to lead the way in creating the thriving community that we let’s see today, ”said Mayor Grover Robinson. “We are fortunate to have such a diverse mix of cultures and a rich heritage in our community. We are truly Florida’s premier and Florida’s future, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for Pensacola as we continue to grow and prosper.

After the remarks, Caitlyn Moore of Sacred Heart Cathedral School read her winning essay, “What it means to me to be an American.” Leo Day sang “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America”.

The formal program ended with groups from UWF performing “The Star-Spangled Banner”. while there was a recreation of an exchange of flags from the Spanish flag to the American flag. There was an overview of the Navy, a special historical dedication by Robinson and Bender, and the storage of a time capsule at the UWF Historic Trust which will reopen in 25 years.

For a photo gallery, click here.

The programming has been structured to reflect the rich and diverse heritage of our community and the collective influences that make our community what it is today. The historic village of Pensacola remained open until 4 p.m., with a performance by the Ayoka Afrikan drum and dance ensemble on stage and a historical and archaeological treasure hunt for children. Various other demonstrations, re-enactments, concerts and dance routines closed the bicentenary in the historic village. A keelboat was at Pitt Slip Marina, and on Friday two re-enactments of the Battle of Pensacola were held at Fountain Park, 300 East Zaragoza Street.

Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

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