TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -
Happy Birthday Florida.
This week Florida celebrates its 500th birthday.
Secretary of State Ken Detzner helped kick off activities Monday to commemorate the anniversary.
It's believed Juan Ponce de Leon came ashore on or around April 2, 1513 and became the first European to arrive in the United States.
He called the land "La Florida" because it was covered with flowers. It was also a tribute to the Eastertime Spanish Feast of Flowers called Pascua Florida.
Detzner says the state is launching a campaign to raise awareness about Florida's 500th anniversary and he hopes it translates into a boost for tourism.
"Florida's 500-year anniversary has been and is a teachable moment for people who don't know about Florida's history," said Detzner. "Viva Florida 500 has nearly 2,000 partners and hundreds of events planned throughout this year."
A replica of a 16th Century Spanish galleon called El Galeon will set sail this month from Puerto Rico to Florida. It will include stops in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Cape Canaveral and St. Augustine.
For more information about he 500th anniversary, check out VivaFlorida.org .