Old Town Fernandina Celebrates Bicentennial

Enjoy trolley and boat rides, an archaeological dig, historic home tour, re-enactors, pirates, treasure hunt, music, and food.

It’s a remarkable year here on Amelia Island, Florida, marking 200 years since the Spanish town of Fernandina was platted in 1811. Historic Old Town Fernandina will be commemorating its 200th anniversary with a special Bicentennial Celebration on Saturday, April 2, 2011.

The celebration day is packed with events including pirates, re-enactors, a kid’s treasure hunt, tours of historic Old Town homes and the Spanish cemetery, live music, an archaeological dig, food vendors and lots more. It should be  a great opportunity for a family day out.  The opening ceremony at 10 am features the Spanish consul-general.

Trolley Rides, Boat Rides

Free trolley rides will take folks from a free parking area on North 14th Street (near Franklin Street) and loop throughout Old Town (operating all day long).

It’s also a fantastic opportunity to take a cruise on the water aboard a ferry that will depart from Fernandina Harbor Marina downtown run by Amelia River Cruises, just $5 roundtrip ticket price (seniors 65 and older and kids under 12 can take the boat ride for FREE).  The ferry will take people to the Tiger Point Marina in Old Town.

Take a look at Amelia Island Living’s FACEBOOK photo album “On the River: Amelia River/Intracoastal Views” featuring lots of scenes around Old Town’s Plaza San Carlos, the famous Pippi Longstocking house in Old Town, the beautiful riverfront vista looking out to the old pogy plant, and Fernandina Harbor marina.

Dubbed the "Pippi Longstocking House" (movie filmed here) in Old Town Fernandina
Dubbed the “Pippi Longstocking House” (movie filmed here) in Old Town Fernandina

The ferry service out of Fernandina Harbor Marina downtown will start at 9:30 a.m. and cruise to Old Town every hour on the half hour. Return trips from Old Town begin at 10 a.m. and will run every hour on the hour. It’s first come, first serve (no reservations), see Amelia River Cruises website for more information.

The Bicentennial Day is packed with educational activities (see full schedule further below) and is shaping up to be a community event not to be missed. If April lives up to its reputation of spectacular weather on this barrier island, it should be a wonderful day spending time outdoors.


Fernandina’s Old Town site is very unique, being the only Spanish town in Florida with the original site plat remaining. Old Town was also the very last Spanish city platted in the Western Hemisphere. According to the University of Florida “the Old Town grid remains as one of the last and purest examples of the Law of the Indies planning Edict of 1573.” While Fort San Carlos once stood at this strategic position toward the northwest end of Amelia Island, today a historical marker is in its place, with green space offering panoramic views of the riverfront.

Ancient Tabby Walls, Bosque Bello Cemetery, Fernandina

Arrive early (before 8:30 am) to participate in a 5K run/walk from the site of Fort San Carlos at Old Town to Fort Clinch. This is a fun run, with no race results or awards (but a clock will be posted at the finish line). Registration is $15 online at Amelia Island Runner’s website (you also get an official Bicentennial T-shirt  plus refreshments after the race). Event day registrations will take place from 7:30 am to 8:15 am at the start/finish site, at Fort San Carlos Plaza in Old Town Fernandina.

Fort to Fort 5K Run 8:30 AM
Official Opening Ceremony 10:00 AM
Pirate Invasion 10:15 AM
Nature of Old Town 10:30 AM and 2:00 PM
Pirate School 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM
Sail Boat Race On The River 10:30 AM
Vignettes of History 11 AM and 1:30 PM
Spanish/Music/Dance 1:00 – 5:00 PM
Spanish Choral Music 2:00 – 2:45 PM
Captain’s Homes, Cottages Tours 10:30-3:30 PM
Walking tours 10:30-3:00 PM

Fernandina Plaza Old Town, Former Site of Fort San Carlos
Fernandina Plaza Old Town, Former Site of Fort San Carlos

The cost to tour six historic homes is $10 if purchased prior to April 2 ($12 day of event). Tickets will be available starting March 21st at the Amelia Island Museum of History and Lindy’s on Centre Street in downtown Fernandina Beach.

Bosque Bello Cemetery Tours are $8 when purchased in advance ($10 day of event). Tickets are for sale at the Fernandina Beach public library on North 4th Street.

A long list of organizers assisted with this special Bicentennial event, including folks from the Amelia Island Genealogical Society, the Amelia Island Museum of History, Amelia Island Pirates, the Amelia Island – Fernandina Beach- Yulee Chamber of Commerce, the Amelia Island-Fernandina Restoration Foundation, The City of Fernandina Beach, The Florida Public Archaeological Network (FPAN), The Florida State Park Service (Fort Clinch & Plaza San Carlos), GDLC Historical Society, Tiger Point Marina, The Amelia Island Tourist Development Council, and The University of Florida.

For more information and to check for possible event schedule changes leading up to the event, visit website www.oldtownfernandina.org or call 904-491-1259.