The Gulf Coast's Entertainment Destination since 1967
Officials surrender city to DeLuna at Seville Quarter
Kalyn Wolfe, News Journal correspondent;
For the past 65 years, the Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon Fiesta Days celebration has allowed Pensacola to get back in touch with its roots.
The kickoff event for the Fiesta of Five Flags celebrating the city's founding in 1559 by Spanish conquistador Don Tristan de Luna brought a legion of local officials and Fiesta fans together Thursday night at Seville Quarter.
The highly social event featured fun, great food and a lot of frolicking during the "Surrender of the City" event at Phineas Phoggs.
Mayor Ashton Hayward, Police Chief Chip Simmons, and Pensacola Naval Air Station Commanding Officer Capt. Keith W. Hoskins were among a handful of local dignitaries captured by the Fiesta Forces.
Each year, officials surrender the city of Pensacola to de Luna and the Fiesta Forces to kick off the highly social Fiesta season.
"Fiesta Days is very important for Pensacola. It's a celebration of our culture and it's a fun way for people to learn about Pensacola's history, including the reenactment based on the surrender of our city," Fiesta of Five Flags Marketing Director Hillary Turner said.
To further commemorate the five flags that have claimed Pensacola over the centuries, each room in Phineas Phoggs was dedicated to each nation. All five flags—American, Confederate, British, French, and Spanish—were prominently displayed throughout, and food from each nation was also made available.
"We're really looking forward to our fiesta each year," former de Luna Dr. Troy Tippett said. "My whole family has been involved and it's special to the community because of the amount of volunteer work that goes into it."
Preparation for the Fiesta Days celebration is year round, and it takes a high volume of volunteers to bring it together. Over 400, to be exact.
Before Bill Woodbury was the de Luna for 2013, he and his wife Jan Woodbury had been supporting the Fiesta season for 30 years.
"It was so much fun serving the Pensacola community," Woodbury said. "I will miss it very much."
On Saturday, the festival continues with family-friendly events including the Centennial Imports Fiesta Boat Parade, the DeLuna Landing Ceremony and the Fiesta Prayer Service.