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Florida turns the big 500!

Happy Birthday, Florida!

On Tuesday, Florida turned the big 500, inviting celebrations from Florida officials and residential Floridians.

It is believed that on April 2, 1513 on the shores of "La Florida" (meaning Festival of Flowers), Juan Ponce de Leon, a Spanish explorer and soldier, became the first European to set foot in Florida. He then claimed the land for Spain. European life grew in the St. Augustine area over the next several centuries, eventually leading into modern Florida.

Having landed on North America 107 years before the Pilgrims, de Leon is credited with being the first European to discover the new continent.

“Florida’s 500th anniversary is a milestone unlike any other in the history of the United States,” said Governor Scott. “By showcasing the diversity and depth of Florida history, we will spur new interest in our state and create new opportunities for our businesses, while also helping educate people of all ages about how Florida has positively impacted our country and the world.”

According to Florida Governor Rick Scott's website, Florida’s quin-centennial commemoration, officially called Viva Florida 500, is being coordinated by the Florida Department of State in partnership with individuals, organizations and businesses throughout Florida. The purpose of Viva Florida 500 is to showcase the variety of historic people, places and events that have helped shape Florida.

So, Happy Birthday, Florida. You look good for a half-millennium!