ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- In September of next year, St. Augustine will become the first U.S. city to celebrate 450 years of continuous occupation. One group is making sure the milestone is memorable.
In 2009, the city created the 450th commemoration committee to help plan the festivities. Director Dana Ste. Claire said while the city remains the No. 1 producer for all events related to the 450th, it's important to have community involvement.
"That date is going to come and go. What we do with it is our responsibility," said Ste. Claire.
The newly formed non-profit group called Focus 450, has made it a responsibility to make sure that celebration leaves its mark for years to come.
Action News first told you about the group in December. Since then, the group has met with private citizens and leaders to spread the word.
Focus 450's goal is to fund legacy projects, like lighting for the Bridge of Lions and a new fence for the Tolomato Cemetery.
These are projects the city doesn't have enough money to fund. According to the group's co-chairman and former St. Augustine Mayor Len Weeks, that's where they come in.
"Our organization is a vehicle to help people who would like to make a donation who want make these projects happen and then we redistribute the money to these projects," said Weeks.
Weeks said their main goal is to attract corporate sponsors who want to make an investment in the historic city. The target is to raise more than $1 million.
"We have pledges of probably $20,000 to $50,000 and that's just scratching the surface," said Weeks.
According to Ste. Claire, less than 1 percent of the city's budget is set aside for the 450th anniversary. Which is why the success of this group is so important.
"They're very important. They can enhance what the commemoration is attempting to do," said Ste. Claire.
Weeks said the group will continue to reach out to different organizations in the hopes of raising the money needed over the next few months.