- Associated Press - Saturday, January 14, 2017

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) - Building on the success of their summertime appearances in downtown Pensacola, historical reenactors are taking their performances of the 1821 handover of Spanish Florida to Gen. Andrew Jackson year-round. Starting Jan. 21, the Jacksonian Guard will perform at noon on the third Saturday of each month in Plaza Ferdinand, on the corner of Palafox and Zarragossa streets.

For 2017, the group is adding four new reenactors in the role of Spanish soldiers who were on hand 200 years ago for the lowering of the Spanish flag and the raising of the American flag.

“It was a sad day for the Spanish, it was the end of an era and the end of an Empire,” said Wesley Odom, who created the reenactment based on written accounts of the original handover ceremony that took place in Plaza Ferdinand.

Odom, owner of Go Retro Tour Company, is looking for volunteers to play the Spanish soldiers.

Jackson’s soldiers are portrayed by a dozen 11- to 21-year-old actors who drum out traditional military marches, play the fife, conduct a flag-raising ceremony and fire off reproduction muskets.

“Having the Spanish soldiers will add a lot to the ceremony. Ideally we’d like to uniform four Spaniards,” said Odom, who joked that speaking Spanish or crying during the Spanish flag lowering portion of the ceremony are not requirements to become a soldier from Spain’s 4th Tarragona Battalion.

“I don’t know if we can count on our Spaniards to cry,” he said.

The July 17, 1821, ceremony in downtown brought an end to 300 years of Spanish involvement in Florida and the start of American rule. Jackson was the temporary governor of Florida at the time.

Go Retro Tours, Visit Pensacola, the city of Pensacola and the University of West Florida Historic Trust sponsor the Jacksonian Guard.

The group’s 2017 performances will coincide with the weekly Palafox Market, a farmers’ and craft market that opens downtown from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

Pamela Homyak, who helped to organize the Jacksonian Guard reenactments, said the performances drew large crowds throughout the summer.

“Now, it is one more experience for residents and tourists to enjoy year-round,” she said.

Homyak, whose husband owns New World Landing and Skopelos restaurants downtown, worked with a bartender to create a cocktail called the 23 Star Salute, a nod to the reenactments and to the 23-star American flag raised by Jackson’s troops back in 1821. The drink is offered at many restaurants in the downtown area.

Reenactments

The Jacksonian Guard will perform at noon on the following Saturdays in Plaza Ferdinand:

. Jan. 21

. Feb. 18

. March 18

. April 15

. May 20

. June 17

. July 15

. Aug. 19

. Sept. 16

. Oct. 21

. Nov. 18

. Dec. 16

For more information about the Jacksonian Guard, visit: https://downtownpensacola.com/businesses/jacksonian-guard

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Information from: Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, http://www.pensacolanewsjournal.com

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