VISIT FLORIDA Invites Visitors Past & Present To Share in the State’s Quincentennial


VISIT FLORIDA Invites Visitors Past & Present To Share in the State’s Quincentennial

Year-long commemoration begins online with free vacations & public timeline

Today, Florida commemorates the monumental moment in history when Juan Ponce de Leon‘s explorations led him to discover the Sunshine State.

On the 500(th) anniversary of that epic discovery — the first European landing in the continental United States — VISIT FLORIDA is making it easier for this century’s adventurers to explore Florida.

Starting this week, prospective travelers have chances to win 50 vacations to Florida – adventures that evoke the state’s heritage of discovery and exploration.

Also, VISIT FLORIDA asks its past and present visitors to add their own Florida experiences to the state’s historical record. At “Share Your Florida Story,” visitors may post their remembrances on VISIT FLORIDA’s Facebook timeline, a record dating to 1513

“Florida’s 500 Years of Adventure” sweepstakes gives away 50 vacation prize packages, one per week through Dec. 29, featuring destinations around the state. Enter at Participants may enter every day for chances to win.

The vacation prizes, from nearly 100 Florida tourism partners, let travelers sun on the world’s most beautiful beaches, luxuriate in resorts, feast on fresh-caught seafood, find serenity in natural wilderness, fish, golf, zipline, dive, surf, paddle, race, explore world-renowned theme parks, and watch timeless Florida sunsets.

Millions of visitors already have glimpsed the marvels of Florida in the 500 years since Ponce de Leon of Spain landed here in 1513. Browse through photos, videos and stories depicting five centuries of those visitors on VISIT FLORIDA’s new Viva Florida 500 Facebook timeline, which is growing daily. After logging in, readers can scroll through the list of decades and centuries on the right side of the page to see a parade of historical milestones that have made Florida the culturally rich destination it is.

Enjoy a pictorial tapestry that includes:

—  Kennedy Space Center, which launched rockets that carried the first
American into spaceand carried the first person to walk on the moon
—  filming of the Jackie Gleason Show in Miami Beach
—  Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation, living village of the
“unconquered” Seminoles
—  the origins of NASCAR, in Daytona
—  the invention of air-conditioning, in Apalachicola
—  the invention of the glass-bottom boat, at Silver River
—  Florida’s “Tin Can Tourists” who camped around the state
—  the winter homes and labs of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, in Fort Myers
—  the island prison of the infamous Dr. Mudd, in the Florida Keys
—  the nation’s oldest schoolhouse, in St. Augustine
—  the long-sought Fountain of Youth, in St. Augustine
—  the nation’s First Thanksgiving and First Christmas

—  and, of course, the discovery of Florida in 1513 by Spanish explorer
Juan Ponce de Leon, the first European explorer to find the continental
United States.
Then readers can leave their own mark on history by posting photos, videos and stories about their Florida adventures at “Share Your Florida Story.”

VISIT FLORIDA’s “500 Years of Adventures” sweepstakes and the Viva Florida 500 Facebook timeline provide ways for past and present visitors to add their personal touch in this quincentennial year to the nation’s oldest recorded history — Florida’s.

For more news about Viva Florida 500, Florida’s quincentennial, including events, FAQ, and suggested story tracks, see the VISIT FLORIDA Viva Florida 500 Newsroom.

For more information about the sweepstakes and/or timeline, contact Laura Cassels, or (850) 205-3839.

As the Sunshine State’s No. 1 industry, tourism was responsible for welcoming 87.3 million visitors in 2011 who spent $67.2 billion, generating 23 percent of the state’s sales tax revenue and employing more than 1 million Floridians. For every $1 spent on tourism marketing, VISIT FLORIDA – the state’s official tourism marketing corporation – generates more than $258 in tourism spending and $15 in new sales tax collections, paid by visitors, not residents. VISIT FLORIDA promotes tourism to Florida through sales, advertising, promotions, public relations and visitor services programs. As a public/private partnership, VISIT FLORIDA serves nearly 12,000 tourism industry businesses, including 2,700 invested Partners, 8,900 web affiliates and major strategic alliance partnerships with Disney Destinations, Dollar Rent A Car, The Hertz Corporation, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and Universal Orlando. To learn more about VISIT FLORIDA, please go to or follow our corporate blog at



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