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CONTACT: DEP Press Office, 850.245.2112, DEPNews@dep.state.fl.us


~Many historical and cultural events planned this month throughout the state~

Living historians reenact the Battle of Bloody Mose.

Living historians reenact the Battle of Bloody Mose.

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Park Service is proud to host many historical and cultural events this month in recognition of Black History Month and Viva Florida 500. Florida State Parks will commemorate their role in African-American history through reenactments of key battles, educational displays and interactive programs. These activities will bring history to life and set the stage for a fun, educational family outing.

“Creating educational opportunities about our significant historical resources is an important part of the state park mission to provide resource-based recreation while preserving, interpreting and restoring natural and cultural resources,” said Donald Forgione, DEP’s Florida Park Service Director. “Florida’s state parks and trails provide an exceptional look into our past that shaped our great state as we know it today.”

Florida is rich in African-American history and Florida State Parks tell the stories of daily life, traditions and turning points in American history. Florida’s state parks are home to Civil War battle grounds where African-American regiments fought against Confederate soldiers at the 1864 Battle of Olustee, as well sites along the Underground Railroad like the lighthouse at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne, listed as a site on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. America’s first free black settlement is located in Florida at Fort Mose Historic State Park, where escaped slaves took refuge in the 1700s.

Many of Florida's state parks and trails offer an educational look at history and culture. Some offer valuable lessons for African American History Month, Native American history and more, all of which are commemorated during Viva Florida 500.


African-American History Events include:

Fort Mose Historic State Park in St. Augustine is the site of the first legally sanctioned free African settlement in what is now the United States. On Saturday, Feb. 9 from 10 a.m.to 3 p.m., living historians will present Flight to Freedom with guided tours to allow visitors to listen to the tales of oppression and resistance and the struggle for freedom. The park is also offering a lecture series on the Birth Place of Freedom. $2 per person, museum admission fee.

In Key West, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park will present Civil War Heritage Days from Friday, Feb. 8 through Sunday, Feb. 10. This three-day event will feature land and sea battles with reenactors in period costume and more. Free with park admission of $6 per vehicle, up to eight people.

From Friday, Feb. 15 to Sunday, Feb. 17, the reenactment of Florida's largest Civil War battle will take place at Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park, east of Lake City. Between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily, more than 2,000 reenactors will present military and civilian life from 1864 along with the battle on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Adults $7, children six and older $5.

On Thursday, Feb. 21, the Silver River Museum will present Glass Bottom Boat Captains of Silver Springs at Silver River State Park. Open House will run from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and the program begins at 6 p.m. Free but space is limited.

On Saturday, Feb. 23, baseball games will be played on the ball fields currently located near the site of the former Negro League ball field at Santos, located just east of US 441 on SW 80 Street between Ocala and Belleview. The Historic Santos Park is located on Cross Florida Greenway land that was acquired as part of the 1930’s Cross Florida Ship Canal project when a sea-level ship canal was planned and started to connect shipping from the Gulf of Mexico to the St. Johns River and Atlantic Ocean near Jacksonville.


Native-American History Events include:

On Saturday & Sunday, Feb. 9 and 10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., enjoy Fort Foster Days as military, Seminole and civilian reenactors portray life from the Second Seminole War period at Fort Foster Historic Site, which is part of Hillsborough River State Park, just north of Tampa. Both days will feature firing demonstrations through the day and a skirmish after 1 p.m. $5 donation per person.

On Saturday, Feb. 9 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., the Lee Trust for Historic Preservation will hold a free symposium titled "Conquistadors and the Calusa: Reflections on Resistance" at Koreshan State Historic Site in Estero. Space is limited. You can pre-register by email.

On Saturday, Feb. 9 from 9 a.m. to noon, visitors can take a fascinating journey by van into the forest at Ichetucknee Springs State Park to the site of the 17th Century Mission de San Martin de Timucua. Space is limited. Call 386-497-4690 for reservations. $6 per vehicle, up to eight people. 


Viva Florida 500

Every week in 2013, the Florida Park Service will highlight a significant event or milestone that happened in a state park or associated with a state park on a new web page called, “Viva Florida 500 – History Notes.” At this web page, visitors can learn about Florida’s heritage through state parks and then experience it in real life by visiting that particular state park. The first weekend of February is jam-packed with history at Florida's state parks. From Plow Days at Dudley Farm Historic State Park (Newberry) on Feb. 1 & 2 and the Plantation Festival at Judah P. Benjamin Confederate Memorial at Gamble Plantation Historic State Park (Ellenton) on Feb. 2 & 3 to the Candlelight Tour at Torreya State Park (Bristol) and the Maritime Archaeology program at Anastasia State Park (St. Augustine) on Feb. 2, there's lots to learn and experience. Don't miss the Stone Age and Primitive Arts Festival at Ochlockonee River State Park on Feb. 22-24.

This is just a sample of the many history focused events being held this month throughout the state.