ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- As St. Augustine prepares for the 500th anniversary of the arrival of legendary explorer Juan Ponce de Leon, another city claims it is actually home to his historic landing spot.
Officials in Melbourne Beach claim modern-day explorers have traced Ponce de Leon's track to Florida, and it takes him there.
In April, St. Augustine will host a major event to commemorate the anniversary of his arrival in North Florida, and Melbourne Beach will do the same. That could have an effect on the number of tourists that visit the nation's oldest city for the event, but city officials aren't too concerned.
"We will have three years of events that people can come to," says Dana Ste. Claire, director of the city's 450th commemoration. In 2015, St. Augustine will celebrate the establishment of the city nearly 50 years after Ponce de Leon's arrival, and the April 2013 event recognizing him is just the beginning.
Ste. Claire says the number of tourists that flock to St. Augustine each year is nearly 7 million, and that number should jump significantly over the next three years, despite claims by Melbourne Beach.
"It doesn't really matter where Ponce landed -- we know it was here -- but it doesn't really matter. What does matter is the attention it will bring to our city, and the number of people that will come over the next three years to learn about the most epic moment in world history."
It's a time Allan Roberts looks forward to. A St. Augustine native, Roberts raises Cracker cattle, which through DNA have been directly linked to the cattle that were brought here 450 years ago.
"People are amazed at our history, even in this industry, and they will come here to see our beautiful city no matter what."
The Ponce de Leon event will take place on April 3. Visit https://sites.google.com/site/staugustine450/home for more information.