The impact of tourism and development on public ritual and festival

Material Information

The impact of tourism and development on public ritual and festival
Griffin, Patricia C
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Subjects / Keywords:
Carnivals ( jstor )
Celebrations ( jstor )
Cities ( jstor )
City squares ( jstor )
Easter ( jstor )
Festivals ( jstor )
Parades ( jstor )
Rituals ( jstor )
Tourism ( jstor )
Towns ( jstor )

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
AFF6103 ( ltuf )
18935800 ( oclc )
0023091654 ( ALEPH )

Full Text







Copyright 1988

Patricia C. Griffin

With sincere thanks

for his scholarly encouragement

this study is dedicated


Dr. Allan F. Burns


The period of this research stretches over ten years

and extends both anthropological and historical research

undertaken over an even longer time span. My residence in,

and knowledge of, the community over a period of almost

thirty-five years has been invaluable to me. Some of the

background data included, especially festivals attended

decades ago, was useful for time depth, although, of course,

no field notes were kept at the time.

It is fully recognized here that being a citizen of the

community in which one conducts anthropological research has

its negative as well as positive side. Automatic blinders

are a problem, and it takes a conscious effort to stand back

to examine a situation where one plays an ongoing part.

The original plan was to study tourism in the

community, but the unwieldiness of this broad area led to

the choice of one facet--ritual--to look at the community's

acceptance of strangers. During the time span of the

research tourist numbers remained stationary, but large

scale development began, a factor which led to some dramatic

changes in public festival life.

There are a number of institutions, organizations, and

individuals who have aided me in various ways in this

research. I especially want to thank the St. Augustine

Historical Society for providing me with ready access to

needed documentary material, photographs, films, and oral

history tapes. Jacqueline Fretwell, librarian, has been of

invaluable help in this regard. Other staff have also been

of assistance--Page Edwards for his encouragement, Jean

Parker Waterbury for the incisive clarity with which she

views things historical, and Jean Trapido-Rosenthal and

Wally Martinsons for their documentary assistance.

Tabletalk, the bi-weekly informal meeting of

historians, of which I am a part, was a profitable forum for

clarifying things present as well as past. I thank all

fifteen members for lending a listening ear.

Other community people whose assistance I especially

acknowledge are Louis Arana, Will Manucy, Michael Tennant,

and Frank Suddeth (National Park Service); Robert Harper and

Lee Selby (Lightner Museum); Bill Adams and Robert Gold

(Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board); Betty Usina and

Coralee Pomar (Chamber of Commerce); Mary Alice Colson

(Sheriff's Department); Charles and Marie Colee (Directors

of the Royal Family); Kenneth Beeson (Mayor of St.

Augustine); Henry Twine (City Commissioner) Thomas Graham

and Robert Hall (Flagler College); Jon Hunt (St. Augustine

Record); and Charles Tingley, (Constitution Bicentennial

Committee). Also helpful have been Frankie Walker, Charles

Coombs, and Eddie Mussallem.

I hereby acknowledge assistance in observation and data

gathering provided by my daughter, Elizabeth Griffin Eigner,

whose look at festivals through teenage eyes was invaluable.

Also, thanks go to my colleagues, Dwight and Bridget

Schmidt. For one summer (1980) I engaged the very able

assistance of Joel R. Williamson, then an undergraduate

anthropology student at Florida State University.

No acknowledgement can ever amply repay my husband,

John W. Griffin, for his help and encouragement. His

training and experience in archeology, anthropology, and

history, and his former position as director of the Historic

St. Augustine Preservation Board provided sources of

information and a resident sounding-board. He spent many

tiresome hours attending, photographing, and mapping events.

Above all, his encouragement kept me believing that this

work would some day be done.

I also thank the members of my committee--Dr. Paul

Doughty, Dr. Kathleen Deagan, Dr. Anthony Oliver-Smith, and

Dr. Michael Gannon for their time, advice, and constructive

criticism. My doctoral committee was restructured several

times. I have appreciated the help of Dr. Elizabeth Eddy,

now retired; as well as that of Dr. Theron Nunez, Dr.

Charles Fairbanks, and Dr. Solon T. Kimball, now all three


Dr. Kimball as my original chairman spent many hours

helping me understand what "community" is all about. In

finishing this project I hereby honor his stern order to me

a few days before his death, "You go on and get that

dissertation done, you understand!"

My final thanks go to the chairman of my doctoral

committee, Dr. Allan F. Burns. It was he who helped me to

restructure this work and led me into the intensive look at

ritual in the subject community. I especially thank him for

his understanding and patience, and credit his assistance in

the completion of this lengthy project.

Errors of omission and commission, as well as the

analysis and conclusions, are fully my own, for which I bear

total responsibility.




ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . .... .. ... .. . .. iv

LIST OF FIGURES .. .. .. .. .. ... . . x

ABSTRACT. ... ... .. .. .. .. .. . . xi


I INTRODUCTION .. .. .. .. .. .. ... 1

The Historical Setting ... .. .. . . 2
Indigenous Culture .. .. .. .. .. . . 5
A Beleagured Community .. .. . ... . . 10
Tourism and Development. . . 13
The Problem. .. .. .. .. .. . ... 16
Community Models .. . .. .. .. . . 18
Tourism Models . . 21
Ritual. Models. . . 22
Case and Method. . . 23
Questions to be Answered .. .. .. . . 25


The Tourist Tax and Community Ideology . . 26
The Modern Setting . ... .. . . . 30
Demography .. .. ... .. . .. ... . 36
Economic Life. .. .. .. .. ... . 38
Social Groups. . .. .. . .. ... . 41
Politics .. ... .. .. .. . . 60
Tourism. . ... ... .. . ... . 63
The St. Augustine Image. .. .. . . . 66
Symbolism. .. .. . ... ... .. .. . 68
A Festive December Day . ... .... .. . 71
Discussion . .. ..... .. .. ** 88
Concluding Remarks .. . .. ... . . . 92



Carnival in St. Augustine. .. .. . . 95
Early Tourism and its Impact on Public Ritual. .109
The Flagler Era and the Ponce de Leon Celebration 115
The Alcazar Era. .. ... .. . ... . 122
Revival of Ponce de Leon Celebration .. .. 124
Transition to Modernity. .. .. .. .. . 127
Easter Festival Beginnings . .. .. . 137
Concluding Remarks . .... .. .. . 141

IV THE EASTER FESTIVAL. .. .. ... .. . 143

The Tourist as Discoverer. .. .. .. . 143
The Easter Festival: Tradition and Change. .. 144
The Festival Cycle and its Spatial Distribution. 148
Festival Social Organization .. .. .. . 151
The Easter Festival as a Woman's Festival. .. 154
The Parade Marshal and the Horses. .......160
Parade and Processions .. .. .. .. .. 161
The Easter Parade. ...............163
The Royal Family Events. . .. .. . ... 166
The Blessing of the Fleet. .. .. .. ... 176
Festival Ambience. . ... .. .. . 187
Trouble in Paradise. .. .. . .. .. . 189
Concluding Remarks . .. . .. .. .. 194

V ST. AUGUSTINE'S BIRTHDAYS. .. .. .. .. . 196

Days in Spain. .. .. ... .. 198
The September 8th Birthday Celebration.... 224
Men~ndez Birthday. . ... .. .. .. .. 230
Recently Added Birthdays . 234
Concluding Remarks ..............236


Why Two Illuminations? . ... .. .. . 243
The Spanish Nightwatch and Illumination. . .. 246
The Fourth of July .. .. ... .. .. . 253
Other Events ... .. .. . 255
Local Imagery. .. .. .. .. .. .. . 268
Concluding Remarks ... .. .. .. . 270

VII CONCLUSIONS. ... .. .. .. ... .. 274

BIBLIOGRAPHY ... .. ... .. .. .. .. . 298

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . ... .. .. .. .. .. 311


Figure Page

1. Vicinity Map. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 3

2. Eighteenth Century St. Augustine. ........ 6

3. Downtown St. Augustine: Significant Sites . .. 31

4. Social Groups: Present-day St. Augustine. ....42

5. Pal Day Visitors. . ... . .... .. .. 75

6. Parade Routes .. . .. . .. .. ... .. 76

7. Visitors per Month, Castillo de San Marcos. . .147

8. Easter Festival Sequence. . ... .. .. .. 150

9. Easter Festival Programs. ... ........ 159

10. Days in Spain Diagram . .. .. .. .... 206

11. Annual Festival Cycle .. ... .. .. .. 244

12. Spanish Nightwatch Illustration .. .. .. .. 248

13. Development Periods and Associated Festivals. . 275

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy




APRIL 1988

Chairman: Allan F. Burns
Major Department: Anthropology

Public ritual is examined in a small, coastal community

where tourism was the economic base from the time that

Florida was transferred from Spain to the United States in

1821 to the present decade when large scale development

transformed the community into a boom town. It was

determined that the evolution was from folk-based ritual to

"rites of modernization" in the late 19th century when the

town became an arena for elite tourism. After the elite

period St. Augustine chose, consciously or unconsciously, to

enter the modern industrial world as a historic-town display

for tourists, and festival life elaborated into a rich

complex. With the pressures of entry into the

postindustrial world in the 1980s, festival life

differentiated and fragmented, temporally and spatially.


Reconfiguration and displacement have not entirely disrupted

continuity of forms and features from the past which are

transformed to express issues in the modern community.

These issues include first, ambivalence toward outsiders

which is worked out in the festival realm by the development

of "temporary rites of incorporation," and through event

twinning. Second, confusion over loyalty to the Spanish

heritage vs. American patriotism is mediated through

symbolic strife and resolution, and by the staged unity of

the celebration itself. Third, problems with the southern

caste and class system in the community are dealt with by

revitalization movements which use festivals as a showcase,

and by linking local events to national celebrations.

Fourth, relief of strains caused by the cleavage between the

Hispanic-Catholic and Anglo-Protestant sectors of the

population, evident throughout the time period examined,

takes place through a brokered duality displayed through

ritual symbols, themes, structure, and timing. A ritual

model is erected for towns of this type where long slow

tourism growth is capped by rapid development.


INTRODUCTION finds no difficulty in believing that in
the course of a few years the entire population of
the earth and the heavens above the earth and of
the waters beneath the earth would be settled in
and around this quaint, romantic, straggling, dear
and dearer-growing city of St. Augustine.
Sidney Lanier 1875

For many, many years, and while the frontier was still

in full surge in other parts of the United States, and long

before many communities in the country had come into

existence at all, St. Augustine, Florida, was a tourist

mecca. Even before 1821 when Florida became an American

territory the town was no stranger to strangers. Founded in

1565, it lays claim to being the oldest continuous European

settlement in what is now the continental United States.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, the other prime contender for this

honor was not established until 1598. From the beginning

St. Augustine has led a beleaguered existence, becoming home

to diverse ethnic groups and national domains in its role as

a commercial, political, military, and religious way


Under continuous onslaught from outsiders, some of whom

became permanent or semi-permanent residents, this small

community has managed to stay viable by adapting a strategy

of small time, conservative opportunism. That opportunism

has been expressed through taking economic advantage of
outsiders who needed services and commodities in their

sojourns in the town and in later days by exploiting the
heritage of the town through initiating modest sized tourist

The Historical Setting
St. Augustine is located on the northeastern coast of

Florida, some thirty-five miles south of metropolitan

Jacksonville (see Figure 1). It is not located in a place

naturally hospitable for human settlement. Situated on a

marshy peninsula which floods at high tide, it faces one of

the most treacherous inlets on the south Atlantic coast. A

scrub and sandy area crisscrossed by waterways stretches to

the north and south, and the nearest fertile land is miles

away to the west.

The settlement site was evidently chosen quite by

accident. One condition of the proprietary grant for the

settlement of Florida given to Pedro Men~ndez de Avilds by
the Spanish Crown called for the elimination of the French

from Florida's shores. After discovering Juan Ribault's

fleet protecting the fledgling French colony, Fort Caroline,

near the mouth of the St. Johns River, Men~ndez sailed south

to the next available inlet to set up a base of operations

from which to eliminate the Huguenots (Lyon 1976). Although

disadvantagious in some respects, the site proved effective

from a military point of view, buffered as it was by the


City Limits--7 1


Historic City-


\ ..







Figure 1. Vicinity Map


shoal and shifting inlet and situated near the point in the

Gulf Stream where it turns to the east, thus allowing the

town to serve as a "Gibraltar"-like guardian for the

treasure-laden Spanish fleet sailing the water highway back

to the Old World.

The charm of the old town area for present day visitors

lies in its Medieval European village look, with its narrow

streets and overhanging balconies, its sequestered loggias,

and walled gardens. This ambience is consequent on the

original town format which has endured since colonial times.

The town was laid out in the grid plan dictated by

Spain for her New World towns, the plan modified in St.

Augustine's case by its peninsular location. Foster

(1960:34) describes how "streets [in Spanish America]

radiate from a square or oblong central plaza and intersect

at right angles to form rectangular blocks. ... usually

the important buildings face the plaza: church or cathedral,

municipal hall, homes of important business and religious

leaders, and other structures central to the life of the

inhabitants. .. In villages and small towns a periodic

market may be held in the plaza."

The original flimsy buildings were supplanted through

the colonial years by more substantial structures made of

plastered-over coquina, a local conglomerate rock which

weathers in a picturesque way. A massive stone fort built

of coquina also replaced earlier wooden structures which

guarded the sea entrance. Eventually, when the English

colonies to the north began to pose a threat of attack by

land, fortifications and defense lines were erected around

the town. The total effect was that of a walled medieval

town as evident in Figure 2, and it was the atmosphere thus

provided on which later visitor fascination is founded. The

spatial imprint endured even after most of the

fortifications, with the exception of the fort and the city

gate, were only a memory.

The town has spread in all available directions in the

ensuing years. The modern community will be described in

the next chapter.

Indigenous Culture
St. Augustine also bore a strong Spanish imprint in

areas other than architecture. This template was stronger

in fact than in many towns established by Spain in the New

World, because, as Deagan (1983:270) has said, unlike other

such settings the "colony was isolated, it was never forced

to develop a subsistence system based on New World

resources, and it thus never developed concomitantly

adaptive social and ideological systems." Deagan concludes

that this factor plus the constant infusion of male emigres

from Spain led to an innate conservatism, a perpetuation of

a medieval world view in spite of a few Renaissance features

in architecture and planning. Only in the domestic realm


4 r


where mestizie took place, could substantial areas of

innovation and change be found.

Although this Spanish cultural complex was removed when

England gained the Floridas in 1763, another Hispano-
Mediterranean group took its place. In 1777 a sizable

Mediterranean group recruited originally to work in a

British colonial enterprise in New Smyrna, seventy miles to

the south, was given sanctuary in St. Augustine because of

hardships and abuses on the plantation and other factors.

The group was composed of natives of the Balearic Islands,
Spain, Italy, and Greece, but came to be known in the

Floridas as the "Minorcans" after the insular origin of the


Importantly, these were agrarian and seafaring people

grounded in a conservative world view based on long standing
lifeways and on folk Catholicism. In his treatise on such

traditional cultures Foster (1962:65) concludes that such

societies are ones where "conservatism appears to be

culturally sanctioned." Fatalism and coexistence with

nature are the norms. Life on a plantation where they were

forced to live in a dispersed pattern and engage in one-crop

cultivation to the profit advantage of the proprietor was

culture-distonic. Indeed the disruption caused by the way
of life forced on them doubtless contributed to their

removal to St. Augustine (Griffin 1977). Once in St.

Augustine, they quickly reordered their lives in the

traditional way, living in nucleated fashion and fishing or

tending small garden plots outside of town. Moreover, they
reinstated the full calendar of religious celebrations

familiar to them, some of which had been suppressed on the


Prior to coming to the Floridas the Minorcan Islanders

in the group had been forced for fifty years to reckon with

Anglo culture because of British occupation of their

homeland. Patterns of coexistence were, therefore, already

a part of the repertoire.
Unlike the mostly male, culture carriers of earlier

times in St. Augustine, the Minorcans came as families, and

the traditional Hispanic folk-culture, with its Catholic

Church centering, was carried forth in the domestic sphere,

solidifying the conservative mien of the community. The

Minorcans mainly lived in a separate quarter of town, and as

the English period gave way to the Second Spanish Period in
1784 and later to the American Period in 1821, this

territorial enclave was maintained. The fact that a few of

the Minorcan women married Spaniards in the Second Spanish

Period and, later, Anglo immigrants in the early territorial

period, produced little effect in the domestic sphere. The

men's interactive sphere was probably much more affected.

Bi-lingualism, and even tri-lingualism became the rule for

the men whereas the Minorcan hearth language and attendant
cultural forms were maintained in the domestic realm. The

net effect in the early stages of the developing St.

Augustine culture in the nineteenth century was conservatism

in the domestic sphere with some innovation and change in

the male domain.

The relative isolation of the town continued to remain

a factor encouraging traditional lifeways and value

orientations. Of interest here is the fact that there was

little contact with the changing Hispanic culture of the Old

World. Revolutionary ideas leading to rebellions and the

resulting drastic political, social, and economic changes

did not influence the Mediterranean world until the very

late eighteenth century. Likewise, anti-clerical, and

anarchist ideas did not become prominent until the 19th

century (Pitt-Rivers 1961). The cultural forms and lifeways

imported to Florida in 1768 by the Minorcans, and

subsequently maintained, were therefore based on an ancient

cultural model.

The Minorcans, along with the attached slaves, have

formed the only continuous population base of the St.

Augustine community for the past two centuries. Although

Mediterranean traits were altered or dropped through the

years, a certain stable core culture has remained which

exists in an effective balance with the Anglo-Protestant

segment of the population added later. This two part system

comprised on one hand of Hispanic-Catholics and on the other

of Anglo-Protestants remains a central feature of the

community today.

B Beleaguered Community

That the community survived at all is a miracle.

Florida, and its seat of government, St. Augustine, was a

pawn in every major war, bouncing back and forth from Spain,

to England, back to Spain, and finally to the United States.

Several times domain changes left a huddle of houses

occupied by only a handful of people willing to cast their

fortunes with a new regime. The town suffered from

inadequate support, from pirate depredations, including an

attack by Sir Francis Drake, from an avalanche of loyalists

when Florida remained loyal to the crown during the American

Revolution, and from the occupation by Union forces during

the Civil War. Fires, floods, freezes, and epidemics

likewise took their toll.

Nor have the town's troubles been over in modern times.

It was forced into becoming a boom town in the late

nineteenth century by the American industrialist Henry

Flagler's grandiose scheme to turn it into the "American

Riviera," and as quickly dropped when elite tourism moved to

Palm Beach and other points to the south. It became the

center of civil rights controversy in the 1960s when Martin

Luther King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference

chose the town for marches and protests leading, some say,

to the passage of the federal Civil Rights Act following the

second season of St. Augustine demonstrations. With the

advent of the 1980s, large and small scale developments

began to swamp the county so that by now St. Johns County'

has become the 34th fastest growing county in the nation. A

recent history book is most appropriately titled, "The

Oldest City, St. Augustine: Saga of Survival."

The capriciousness, the unpredictable course of the

town's history, the constant barrage of outside forces

impinging upon it, of which the latest boom is one more

example, has led to the way that local people think about

their community. Perhaps it is an overstatement to say that

a certain siege mentality exists. Nevertheless, when a

community is subject to frequent disruptions by

constituencies with different agendas and abstract,

sometimes foreign, values, certain adaptive responses


One strategy used by the community is to close ranks

under threat. Outsiders, for example, were confused when

the town presented a united front in the civil rights

disturbances. A charge of cowardice was leveled at town

moderates for their failure to ameliorate the town's

position, when actually, overriding loyalty to the besieged

community triumphed over any liberal ideology which existed.

Underneath this unified front is a prevailing

contentiousness. An oft-repeated story, with many

variations, has it that the way to get an argument started

is to walk into the plaza and announce that it is Friday, or

any other obvious fact. Any local people about will

immediately take issue. Inter-group and intra-group

controversies flourish as well. Alignments may be the

traditional ones or shift as seems expedient, leading to the

strange bedfellows phenomenon. Milder disagreements may

result in compromise; other feuds may continue for years or

be carried across generations.

Those familiar with Mediterranean culture will

recognize the strong Spanish theme of "pueblo" loyalty in

the above discussion. Foster describes the pattern as

Whether one's native town be large or small, the
same attachment to, love of, and fierce pride in
it are found in each heart. This sense of
community is not reflected in a local social
structure that functions without ma jor conflict
and stress. The opposite is more nearly true;
enmities may be strong, and antagonisms are deep
and frequently long standing. At the same time
against the world there is unity in local
patriotism, and a genuinely strong belief that the
community is superior to all others. [Foster

It is the thesis of this study that the celebratory

spirit of festival is one way in which the community

maintains this precarious unity. Seasonal and one time

events tie together diverse elements as past glories are

celebrated and present cohesiveness maintained. Some fifty

public events were staged in 1986, confirmation that the

nickname "festival city" is well deserved.

Tourism and Development

While strangers had been common on St. Augustine

streets in the first centuries of the town's existence,

their missions were economic, religious or political. After

1821, however, when Florida became a territory of the United

States, health seekers and sportsmen of enough affluence to

afford the ocean passage found the warm St. Augustine

winters attractive. Tourism had begun. A slow rise in

tourism, interrupted briefly by the Seminole and Civil Wars,

was capped in the last part of the century by the Flagler

Era boom when railroads and a complex of ornate hotels and

other facilities were built to house elite winter

vacationers seeking a warm and exotic locale. After a

number of setbacks, the Flagler Era came to an end near the

turn of the century when the "Newport Crowd," as these

precursors of the Jet Set were called, moved south to Palm


Tourism, however, although no longer as elegant,

continued, and reached in the 1920s a second flowering in

St. Augustine which I will refer to as the Alcazar Era,

after the name of the hotel in which hivernant social life

centered. Through various changes, including the

development of a small middle class, townspeople merged with

prosperous visitors in an annual social season, the elite

tone of which continues in some corners of community life


The economic depression of the 1930s broke this cycle
of tourism, and it was not until after World War II that

automobile tourism provided a gradually increasing number of
visitors, spreading by that time into the summer months.

The bulk of the summer visitors were families on two week

vacations. This slow but significant acceleration, which

allowed the town to adapt gradually to increased visitation,

was again disrupted by outside forces when the Southern

Christian Leadership Conference used the community for

demonstrations in the 1960s, ushering in a mild local

depression which continued for at least five years, ending
dramatically when Walt Disney World opened in October, 1971.

Situated only two hours away by car from what has become the

world's largest tourist magnet, has meant that St.

Augustine, positioned at the edge of "the Mickey Mouse
Circle," has had a steady stream of tourists ever since.

The latest boom did not come until the 1980s, and it

has come not through increased tourism, which has actually

plateaued, but through tourists who decided to become

residents. The population of St. Johns County, of which St.

Augustine is the county seat, has nearly doubled in the
seven years since the 1980 census. Much of that growth has

come from its attraction as a retiree center, although the

northern edge of the county is also experiencing industrial

growth and bedroom-housing spillover from metropolitan

Jacksonville. The building boom is also bringing in a cadre

of new residents engaged in the building trades.

A strained and sometimes broken infrastructure had by

1986 brought the community to a crisis level. An antiquated

political and economic framework has been unable to deal

effectively with severe housing, transportation, water,

sewer, recreation, crime, and other social problems. For

example, a just-built jail was already inadequate. Small

time, conservative opportunism as a strategy no longer

sufficed, and community control was rapidly passing into the

hands of big development interests.

Before this boom-town situation, St. Augustine had

chosen, perhaps not in a conscious way, but certainly by the

path of least resistance, to enter the modern world as a

tourist attraction, by using its traditional aspects--

architecture, history, ethnic groups, ritual life, and

especially its significance as the "oldest city"--to attain

this status. The early origin and slow development of the

town has resulted in an encapsulization of its quaintness,

now elaborated, some say tarnished, by added commercial

attractions. The old town area is rapidly becoming a

"museum" surrounded by modern residential and commercial

development. In some respects the community jumped directly

from the preindustrial to the postindustrial world,

bypassing the intermediate stage. While tourism is

sometimes called an "industry," it does not fit the

customary understanding--that of production or manufacture

of items or goods for profit.

The Problem

The case, then, is a community, where long slow

development has been based on tourism, whose community

context and ideology evolved from reciprocal relations with

outsiders. Community adaptive strategies of the past are no

match now for the sudden onslaught of a different kind of

economic change.

The problem for this study is to look at community

change under the impact of tourism and the more recently

added development boom. Public ceremonial life will be the

window through which we will observe community change. It

has been chosen as the vehicle for this purpose because it,

more than any other aspect of community life, cements the

various factions into the meaningful unity known as St.

Augustine. A typical extensive yearly round of Hispanic

Catholic celebrations was in place in the early 19th century

when tourism began. Episodic, repetitive change was the

norm, and ritual crystallized the yearly time series; the

mysteries of the World were celebrated, not probed. Growing
from this rich base the elaborate festival life of the

present community has developed. Ritual modes appear to be

used both to promote unity and as border mechanisms to deal

with strangers.

It is not the purpose here to decontextualize ritual

from the study of this community. No research on a

community can reach totality. Even some of the earlier

studies which attempted to approximate completeness, brought

some elements to the fore more than others. Thus, the study

of "Yankee City" (Warner 1941) heavily used one facet,

contemporary class structure, as an explanatory device.

Likewise Vidich and Bensman (1968) analyzed the community of

"Springdale" from the standpoint of the economic ties to

mass institutions and urban society, and more recently

Wallace (1980) sought understanding of Rockdale through

focusing on the results of technological change on the

subject community. I have chosen public ritual as the

illuminator for St. Augustine for the same reason that

Geertz (1973) chose it in the Javanese community he studied,

and Ortner (1978) concentrated on it among the Sherpa,

because of its central importance in the cultural context of

that particular community. In St. Augustine the festival

complex is intricately interwoven with the political,

economic, and social spheres of the community, and has

remained so throughout the century and a half that the town

has been a tourist mecca.

Doughty (1978:1) has spoken of "the tendency in many

writings to consider 'the fiesta' as a frivolous type of

event, scarcely worthy of close attention in light of other

issues such as social structure, politics or social change."

It is my contention that festival life is so interwoven with

structure, process, and change that to overlook it is to

ignore the very life blood of the community as well as

overlooking a significant and very useful diagnostic tool.

Models used will fall under the categories of

community, tourism, ritual, and change.

Community Models

For community study, the model fully articulated by

Arensberg and Kimball (1972) is most useful for organizing

the material for this project. This model, tied to the

community study method, places community as the object or

sample of a human group exploiting a resource base in a

specific territory. Communities then fall into types for

which certain predictions can be made. Dr. Kimball at the

end of his career, still fascinated with community as an

entity, thought more and more of a community as a "problem

solving unit," and he often said, "The crucial question for

all of us [as anthropologists] is what energizes a system"

(personal communication).

By the time that this question was posed, the study of

communities in isolation had fallen into some disuse by

anthropologists because such investigations failed to reckon

in more than a cursory manner with the regional, national,

and international forces of the postindustrial world. Hoben

(1982:354) has discussed the damaging effect of

"anthropology's failure to focus on the complexity of the

local community, individual decision making processes, class

interests and class formation, and the relationships of

local communities and institutions to the wider political

and economic institutions within which they are embedded."

Community theory of an earlier time, through the circuitous

route of semiotics, interactional theory, neo-evolutionary

constructs, and other influences, has come to the emerging

"praxis" theory of the 1980s. Ortner (1984), while admitting
to the amorphous orientation of the praxis model, sets agent

or actor into the practice or action frame, as the main

emphasis. An effort is made to understand "how society and
culture themselves are produced and reproduced through human

intention and action" (Ortner 1984:158). In this paradigm,

an interactive focus is considered an adjunct to structure

and function. Such a blend of explicatory meaning and time

depth will be especially useful in the present instance.

A basis has been laid in Emile Durkheim's original

social structure differentiation variable "organic

solidarity" (Durkheim 1933) and thence to (1) the

elaboration of differentiation as an ongoing evolutionary

mode as a macrosystem by Leslie White (1959) and (2) mini-

differentiation into "front" and "back" regions by Erving

Goffman (1959). However, White's theory falls short because

of its emphasis on the influence of technology as the locus

for change and its insistence on a narrow developmental

definition, and Goffman's construct, while valuable, is

limited by its micro-interactional context.

More germane for present purposes, Dean MacCannell, a

sociologist, has used the best of these models in looking at

change in tourist communities. He speaks of a "special type
of differentiation especially prevalent in tourist settings,

a duplication of structure" (MacCannell 1976:179). From an
action level standpoint they mirror what Giddens (1979:221)

has described as "divergent interpretations" of established

norms. Such duplication or structure twinning causes

internal elaborations, where the convoluted result presents

a most confusing picture.

In the context of ritual, Burns (1978:169) believes it

profitable to regard change as both "episodic" and

"evolutionary" in the natural history of communities. Taken

together the duality is explanatory of the rise of
revitalization movements and attendant ritual ordering.

Kroeber's notion of "cultural fatigue" (Kroeber

1948:404), another possible cause of cultural change, brings
forward the factor of "social staleness." In this

construct, forms have outlived their usefulness and interest

to the community and are abandoned, often abruptly.

Explanations of change as wrought by human intentionality,
of which this is an example, fell into disrepute during the

1970s era of Marxist determinism in anthropology, but a few

years later we hear Ortner (1984:158) saying that "society

is a system, that the system is powerfully constraining, and

yet that the system can be made and unmade through human
action and interaction."

Tourism Models
There are now a wealth of anthropological studies

focusing on tourism even though anthropology was late as a

field in coming to such studies. With anthropology's

emphasis on non-Western peoples, the studies so far have

characteristically been aimed at easing the transition into

modernity for indigenous peoples and cultures. The debate

has raged, and the discourse goes on in other social

sciences as well, as to whether tourism is the "great

destroyer" (see particularly Nash 1977,1981; Turner and Ash

1976; Forster 1964) or whether it is a force for

preservation and enhancement of traditional peoples (see

MacCannell 1976,1984; Graburn 1976,1977,1983; de Kadt 1979).

As the 1980s decade advances, polarization on the issue is

less prominent, and accommodation is highlighted by most, or

for scholars with an anti-tourism bent, making the best of a
bad situation, which is itself a form of accommodation.

Tourism studies in the social sciences, especially in

sociology and anthropology, have looked at the what, where,

why, and how of tourism. Typologies have been erected,
sacred and secular aspects examined, and comparative
research has been undertaken. Much field work has been

accomplished on the influence of tourism on the contact

culture, rather than the impact of the toured community on

the tourist. The present study will be in this customary

vein, focusing on the results of tourism and development on

the community and its culture or cultures. Where this study

is different is its use of the festival genre to examine

what happens.

Ritual Models

"Rituals are public," Marcus and Fischer (1986:61)

note, and "are often accompanied by myths, and are analogous

to culturally produced texts that ethnographers can read

systematically." In essence, the lead of Geertz (1973,1983)

will be followed in looking at ritual. He customarily

posits an ethnographic case, then through "thick

description," comprehension of the alien text, and

translation for the reader, he weaves an emerging message.

Prior to Graburn's (1983) call for further research on

festival life and tourism, few were the studies of this kind

(notably Greenwood 1977; Moore 1980; Jordan 1980; Esman

1982). A number of works, however, mention festivals in

passing as one of the elements which attract tourists to a


The work of MacCannell, previously mentioned, bridges

the theoretical gap between tourism and ritual, as well as

bringing in the change aspect, and his analysis of "staged

authenticity" (MacCannell 1976:91-93) will be particularly

useful. He takes his text from the matter of perceived

reality and authenticity where these buffer the tourist's

experience in a visited locale. He sees the ideology of

"true" or "real" presentations for tourists as a

differentiating force for the tourist community, initiating,

along with other internal elements, changes in space use,

social structure and ritual itself.

In addition to the above, I will use the ritual process

model of Victor Turner (1969,1975,1978,1982); and Arnold Van

Gennep's (1960) well known and extremely useful "rites of

passage" framework will also provide ways for analyzing the


Case and Method

The subject community of St. Augustine is defined as

the larger community usually designated by that name, the

natural community as it is extended beyond the statutory

polity; in short, including all those who, if outside the

area at the time and asked where they are from, respond "St.

Augustine" although they may live as much as eight or ten

miles from the town plaza.

My residence in the community for two different periods

from 1954-1959 and from 1970 to the present, with summers in

between these two periods spent in the area, have provided a

wealth of background knowledge about the community.

Attendance at public events, while extensive because of my

husband's position, was random until 1978, but has been

continuous ever since, comprising in the ten year period

from 1978-1988 attendance at over 200 public events.

Masters degree research, not focused on ritual, however,

encompassed another period of extensive study from 1975-

The method relied on in the present research was the

community study method delineated by Arensberg and Kimball

(1972) and elaborated by Kimball and Partridge (1979). "Our

unit of analysis becomes the event, as a point in space and

time," Arensberg and Kimball (1972:264) admonish, "but

includes its antecedents and consequences." In this study

public events are examined as atoms to elucidate the total

picture, and to look at development and community change.

The standard ethnographic tools of participant

observation and key informant interviewing were used both
inside and outside the bounded event context. Other

quantitative and qualitative data were elicited by use of

city, county, and state statistics; newspapers; review of
oral history tapes, films, and radio programs; collection of

material about the town printed in sources outside the

community, such as regional magazines; etc. Also used were

unobtrusive measures, mapping and photography. A limited

sample of events was attended in other United States

communities for comparative purposes. A summer of field

work in Wales where ceremonial events and festivals were

attended as part of the research provided comparison in an

even larger context. A description of the customary

anthropological methods employed in the present study may be

found in Pelto (1970); Webb et al. (1966) and Naroll and

Cohen (1970).

Questions to be Answered
1. What is the character, past and present, of St. Augustine

as a tourist community?

2. How has public festival life changed in the community

under the impact of contemporary American life, particularly

tourism and modern development? What role has ritual played

in this process of change?

3. What processes of differentiation and change are at work

within the community which in turn are expressed in ritual

4. What continuities in ideology, ritual, and social
structure can be observed?

5. Can an evolutionary model be erected, with predictive

implications, which might be generalized to other

communities with parallel histories and of a similar type?


There are two dirty words in St. Augustine, tax
and condominium.
Wendall Clardy, local citizen, as
quoted in Florida Trend, May, 1979.

In this chapter the present-day St. Augustine community

will be discussed. An illustrative overview will be given

using a particularly relevant case--the difficulty

encountered in passing the tourist development tax in the

county. From this, the intangible ideological framework of

the community will begin to emerge, so that the economics,

demography, politics and government, and social group

composition will make more sense.

Relationships to regional, national, and international

markets will add to our understanding of this small town's

relationship to complex market forces. The chapter will be

rounded out with a description of a typical festive December

day, called Pal Day, which begins with a Christmas parade,

continues with staging of various activities during the

daylight hours, and ends with the Grand Illumination

ceremony in the evening.

The Tourist Tax and Community Ideology

The economy of St. Augustine is based anywhere from 60%

to 85% on tourism depending on whose estimate is accepted,

yet a referendum on a tourist bed tax failed three times

over a period of seven years. On the fourth try in

November, 1986, the measure passed.

The Tourist Development Tax, calling for a two percent

tax on lodging for tourists, was authorized by the Florida

Legislature on a local option basis to help counties defray

the costs of the industry without using tax dollars levied

on local citizens. In St. Johns County it was expected to

raise $600,000 in 1987 and over one million annually by

1990. The plan for St. Johns County called for 40% of the

revenues to be spent on advertising and promotion of the

area as a tourist destination, 30% on recreation/beach

redevelopment, and 30% on arts and culture. The latter

would include some or all of the expenses of tourist-related

public events and festivals.

The tax passed easily in other counties where tourism

is a major factor. By the time of the fourth vote in St.

Johns County, most of the areas where it had been adopted

earlier reported a positive experience with this source of

revenue. In St. Johns County an immediate furor arose when

it became known that the issue would once again be placed

before the electorate.

Objections to the tax, verbal as well as written (one

man took out a full-page ad in the local paper), revealed a

ground swell of anti-tourist sentiment. Concern with

government interference, that it would create a "pork

barrel" for local politicians (St. Augustine Record, October

30,1986), that it would benefit special interest groups like

the Chamber of Commerce and the Arts Alliance were some of

the complaints. Waxing constitutional, one opponent fretted

that it was "taxation [of tourists] without representation;"

likely a projection of the writer's own mistrust of

government and certainly one of the few instances one finds

of looking out for tourist rights. Others worried that it

would keep tourists away from the town while a few claimed

that St. Augustine had enough tourists already and

attracting more would only further clog the streets and


In the closing days before the election, complaints

focused on outright suspicion of community leaders and

others who were backing the measure. The "everyone is out

to make a fast buck and line his own pockets" held sway.

When the vote was finally positive some members of the

opposition were poor losers, pointing out that the only

reason that the tax passed when most people did not want it

was because of the high pressure tactics of the campaign.

The slick materials circulated in the community were spoken

of with outrage. The public relations job done by a

solidly-aligned business group and other local associations

did play a part in the positive outcome. However, some

deep-seated cleavages in the community were operating also.

A study of the 1986 vote on the measure reveals that

the win margin in the 10,842 to 8,028 vote occurred in the

growth areas of the county and in the more prosperous
districts. Seven precincts accounted for most of the win

while 38% of the winning margin was logged by just two

precincts in Ponte Vedra, the affluent Jacksonville suburb

on the northeastern edge of St. Johns County. In general,

precincts occupied by old time resident families cast a

negative majority vote, whereas areas with an old and new

population mix carried for the tax, but with a small


While a few of the tax opponents were gracious losers,

including a campground owner from a well-known local family,

the issue has never died. The plan to spend part of the

revenue on a municipal golf course promptly brought

suggestions for the recall of county commissioners. Then,

in December, 1987 the matter was brought to the fore again

when it was announced that part of the bed-tax dollars were

to be used to attract the Association of Tennis

Professionals, a national organization, to headquarter in

Ponte Vedra. The revenue from the tax had exceeded

expectations for the first year by about $30,000, and the

Tourist Development Council, the authority set up to

administer the tourist-tax revenue, voted to recommend to

the county commission that $600,000 be given to the ATP over

the next five years.

"I told you so" responses broke out in the newspaper
and other forums. Local money was seen as being drained

from the community to benefit rich people in Jacksonville,

and even possibly as a payoff to Ponte Vedra for support of

the tax. A parallel was drawn with the Tournament Players

Championship, a golf association which is Ponte Vedra based,
but is claimed in national publicity to be a Jacksonville

sport complex.

Divisiveness on this tax is easily seen as polarizing

along local/newcomer, wealthy/poor, and urban/rural lines,
although this is not an entirely unmixed picture. But the

comment must be added that there is a long standing

sentiment in the community that taxes are bad regardless of

their purpose, that they represent unwarranted intervention

from governments and individuals with nefarious purposes.

As far back as the nineteenth century the town council

refused to pass a tax on the polity to accede to Henry

Flagler's request that the streets be paved, a refusal
contributing to Flagler's moving his enterprises southward

in the state (Graham 1978).

The Modern Setting
The location of the town has been described as

inauspicious for a human settlement. This is less so in the

present than in the past. Water is no longer the major
travel route, so the condition of the inlet and harbor is of

less importance. Modern technology has allowed deepening of

channels and restructuring the waterfront with sea walls and

bulkheads, eliminating some of the flooding problems.

Flooding still occurs when either a tropical storm or

northeaster coincides with high tide and a full moon, but

townspeople take it in their stride. At such times citizens

plan their town trips at low tide or take the back streets

along the ridge to reach their destinations.

Agriculture, third in county income after tourism and

development, is now located in western county areas on the

fertile St. Johns River plain. The less fertile soil on the

edges of the community is presently in residential

development or in forest lands.

Remarkably, town life remained centered on the plaza

until this decade. All city and county, and some state,

offices were on or just off the plaza as were the two

principal banks. Other commercial establishments were on

the immediately radiating streets. The Cathedral and the

old Episcopal church still face each other across the plaza.

This positioning was a legacy from the days when the

Minorcan quarter stretched to the north behind the Cathedral

to the city gate, and many of the first, and more

prosperous, Protestant residents settled south of the pla28

beyond Trinity Episcopal Church.

After a relatively inactive period after World War II

the complex of Flagler buildings was put to adaptive use in

the 1960s and 1970s. The St. Augustine City Hall and the

St. Johns County Courthouse relocated in two of the ornate

hotels. Part of the Alcazar Hotel was made into the

Lightner Museum, financed by a wealthy collector who became

associated with the town. Redone in the 1970s it displays

the town's Victorian period in a sophisticated and tasteful

manner. The collection of Tiffany glass is a "must see" on

many a visitor's list. In 1969 the Ponce de Leon Hotel, the

flagship of the complex, was turned into Flagler College, a

small, private college, funded mostly by the Flagler heirs.

The fort, Castillo de San Marcos, lies to the north of

the historic area and is easily, with its draw of three-

fourths of a million visitors a year, the most significant

tourist attraction. The restored area managed by the state

occupies the north sector of the historic town. Its

boundaries almost exactly coincide with the historic

Minorcan Quarter. It went through an intermediate period

when it was called San Agustin Antiqua, but has recently

been renamed "The Spanish Quarter" with the rationale of

making it more attractive to visitors. This historic

section containing a number of restored and reconstructed

houses accounts for the second largest number of tourist

visitors per year after the fort. Other points of interest

in the historic section of town include the Oldest House, a

doll museum, Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum, the Oldest

Store Museum, Potter's Wax Museum, and others. In areas

outside the historic district tourists can visit the

Methodist and Presbyterian churches built by Flagler, the

Fountain of Youth, Nombre de Dios Shrine, and the Alligator


As in other tourist centers, once a node of attractions

emerges and visitor traffic increases, various businesses

and other attractions spring up to add to the complex. In

turn, as tourist space increases, local interaction space

decreases. For the last few decades the "Quarter" has been

almost exclusively tourist space. Aside from a few

skateboarders dodging about to avoid the vigilance of the

police, one rarely sees a local person there. The upper

part of the street has been blocked to automobile traffic

since the 1960s, and in 1984 the walking "mall" was extended

to the plaza. The historic area is, however, not so neatly

bounded, and as is true in other historic-display towns,

adjacent areas encompass street segments or individual

houses and public buildings of historic importance.

The municipal boundaries increased gradually prior to

this decade. By the early part of the 20th century the city

had been expanded to include what is still called North

City, north of the City Gate; Lincolnville, the area on the

south part of the peninsula where blacks settled after the

Civil War; and a section of land across the San Sebastian

River, popularly called West Augustine. The last is split

between a white area on the east and black area on the west,

part of the latter extending into the county. During the

1920s boom Davis Shores was developed and included in the

city limits (See the map in Figure 1).

This incorporated area is only part of the present

geographic setting which is today considered the community.

Greater St. Augustine now stretches in all habitable

directions past the city limits including Vilano Beach north

of the inlet and even embracing St. Augustine Beach, itself

a corporate entity. But the spectacular growth has taken

place along U.S.1 South, hastened dramatically by the

opening of the first shopping mall in 1980. After that,

local downtown businesses began to close, move out of the

downtown area, or change their emphasis to cater to

tourists. Government entities began to move also, a trend

begun when the county built a new administrative complex on

U.S.1 North. A movement is underway to move the judicial

facilities also.

More and more in St. Augustine one hears that the

center of town has moved from the downtown plaza area to the

conflux of U.S.1 and County Road 312 which, via a new

bridge, connects the middle part of Anastasia Island to the

mainland. Stretching south of this area on the mainland are

new housing developments--St. Augustine South, Moultrie,

Prairie Creek, and St. Augustine Shores. Residents of the

"Shores" live in medium-priced homes and are mostly retirees

from the north. Other new subdivisions are rapidly being

platted to the south and west of these locations.

Vacation homes, campgrounds, resort facilities, and
condominiums stretch south on Anastasia Island to Crescent

Beach and beyond. While some condo dwellers on the Island

are year-around occupants, more commonly they are seasonal

or on a time-share basis and thus only tangentially

connected to community life.

St. Johns County, 617 square miles in size, once

included nearly half of Florida. Now it is bounded by the

Atlantic Ocean to the east, Pellicer Creek on the south, the

St. Johns River on the west and the Jacksonville city limits

to the north. Development taking place on the northern

boundary is clearly part of the greater Jacksonville

community, which, it is expected, will eventually stretch to

St. Augustine.

St. Augustine's climate is mild with an annual mean

temperature of 70 degrees and rainfall of 50 inches a year.
The lack of industry and the prevailing sea winds keep the

locale mostly pollution free. Since early times the climate

of the area has been remarked on as salubrious, accounting
for its attraction as a health resort in the nineteenth


The population of St. Johns County in 1987 was
estimated at nearly 75,000 people, an increase of some 46.4%

since the 1980 census. This population growth has

outstripped all predictions, and, based on recent growth

rates, the population is expected to double to 150,000 by

A.D. 2,000. About 48% of the recent growth has been in the
U.S.1 South and Anastasia Island areas.

Meanwhile the city of St. Augustine proper is slowly
losing population. From 11,985 in the 1980 census it

declined to an estimated 11,891 in 1986. This loss of

population is due to a declining birth rate, outmigration,

mortality, the increase of commercial establishments (mostly

tourist related), and an increase in government owned


Some of the outmigration mentioned above may be no

further than to new homes in the unincorporated area nearby.

Using various measures, an educated guess is that greater
St. Augustine, that area where people define themselves as

part of the community, has a population of about 40,000-


For the first half of the century whites accounted for
75% of the population of the town and blacks constituted the

other 25%. Presently blacks live mostly within the city

limits and now compose 21% of the city population. In slave

days and even later blacks were scattered throughout the
town. Although several of the old inholdings still exist,

most now live in Lincolnville at the southwestern tip of the

town peninsula and at the western edge of West Augustine.

Taking the county as a whole, the black population was 17%

in the 1980 census, a percentage which is declining rapidly

because of the number of in-migrating whites.

Except for the black community, the average age is

increasing in the county and the population shows a skew

toward more females than males in its composition.

Economic Life

"St. Johns County has become the hottest little growth

area on Florida's First Coast," the Jacksonville Business

Journal (February 2, 1987) recently reported. Elaborating

that seventeen new manufacturers had moved into the county

in the last eighteen months, it was concluded that they are

adding "an industrial punch to a once economically sluggish

area dependent almost entirely on tourism." That growth has

been dramatic since the beginning of the decade is

undeniable, but many of the individuals and concerns

profiting by that growth are outsiders. Significant

industrial development is mainly confined to the area just

south of the Jacksonville line, and usually workers are

recruited from within the Jacksonville area. It has been

said that about 70% of the employment age individuals in St.

Johns County do not have the education and training, or

perhaps the inclination, to take industrial jobs. A trade

school, St. Augustine Technical Center, which serves a

regional area, is now located in west St. Augustine. There,

an effort is being made to correct this deficiency.

The cold hard fact is that St. Johns County is far from
affluent, and St. Augustine itself is classed by the state

as a "small, distressed city" (St. Augustine Record: October

11, 1986). Moreover, it is an expensive place in which to

be poor. The average per capital income in the city is

$8,726, below the $10,823 for the county, which is again
below the $11,065 of the Jacksonville Metropolitan

Statistical Area of which St. Johns County is a part, which

in turn is slightly below the state per capital income of

$11,593, which is likewise below that of the nation as a

Income in the St. Augustine area is not equally
distributed, with blacks twice as likely as whites to be

living below the poverty level. According to a recent

report compiled for use with St. Augustine's comprehensive
land use plan (Duke 1986:44), St. Johns County is an

expensive area in which to live, with food being the most

expensive item. In only two other counties in the state did
food cost more.

Other items tell more of the story. Approximately four

to five percent of county residents receive some form of

public assistance. The county has a higher school dropout
rate than surrounding counties or that of the state as a

whole, and 40% of the city's adults have not completed high

school. The community's unemployment rate is consistently

high, customarily fluctuating with the tourist cycle. With

the present boom, the area is, however, experiencing some

change in this employment picture.

However, with the above background, it is easy to see

how small scale tourism development, which has been the

pattern, fits in. Most tourism related jobs are of the

unskilled service kind; likewise, agricultural work calls

for a pool of unskilled, seasonal labor. Before the 1980s

the few light industries attracted to the area were hampered

by the lack of education and labor skills of the potential

work force. The few industries which have been successful

were those which made use of traditional skills stretching

back to Spanish times, notably the building trades,

including boat building.

Some have intimated that those in community control in

the past had a stake in maintaining St. Augustine as a

tourist reservation (see particularly Colburn 1985). It is

true that little effort was spent on improving poverty

problems or living conditions. For example, St. Johns

County is still the largest county in the state without a

housing authority, although low income housing is a pressing

problem. Consistently, although eligible, the county has

chosen not to apply for housing grants while some homes are

without water and indoor plumbing. One of the county

commissioners sees as part of the problem that "many

residents did not trust the government enough to pursue

housing grants" (Florida Times Union, February 25,1987).

Nevertheless, clinging to tourism has been less by

intent than an artifact of gradual and longtime adaptation.

It has served reasonably well to keep the community afloat.

Small tourist establishments were congenial with local

entrepreneurial traditions, and the seasonality of the

tourist industry has always meshed with the relaxed work

style. Even in lean tourist times the attitude as one old

timer expressed it in a 1974 interview is, "we old St.

Augustinians can always get along; we've always been poor,

but we know how to make the most of what we have and our

wants aren't much."

With the pace of community growth accelerating

dramatically, while the number of tourists has stabilized,

the slice of the economic pie represented by tourism has

probably declined in the last five years from a high of 85%

to somewhere around 65%. Large scale development in the

area is an "added to" factor rather than subtracting from

the long time economic base of the community. However,

while economic activity has picked up, until some

readjustments are made, this dramatic change is causing an


Social Groups

The Minorcans

The point has already been made that the Minorcan group

composed much of the population of St. Augustine when the

area became a United States territory. These Mediterranean




Highly generalized and schematic.

Figure 4-. Social Groups: Present-day St. Augustine

descendants have been, and are, a sturdy and resilient

cluster. As mentioned, others--usually white male

Southerners--have been annexed by marriage through the

years. Today, the Minorcans probably number about three or

four thousand, with some twenty easily identified family


Some of this group, and this was even truer in the

past, do not define themselves as Minorcans at all, but

identify themselves as "from an old St. Augustine family."

Farmers and fishermen initially, many still maintain such

activities as sidelines or supplements. They have layered

out through the class strata of the community, but a sizable

number of family heads are self-employed in the building and

service trades. Few are at the bottom of the social

structure of the town. A prevailing value system crosscuts

social and economic levels. In the following the ideal type

is described.

At base the culture of this group is family and

(Catholic) church oriented. The men's work group is still

prominent and may be seen at its best in the fishing

modality. Esteem of one's fellows is of central concern and

honor, and shame, its opposite, plays more of a role in

behavioral modes than does achieved status. Politically,

members of the community tend to be conservative, patriotic,

ready to defend home and country from real or supposed


Work is for survival and not an end in itself. A

favorite story of the past is of the cry "Mullet on the

beach" emptying a church or football field. Diffuse

leadership and egalitarian decision-making patterns prevail.

It is a personalistic sub-community where all are known, and

"good" and "bad" branches of each family are well

identified. This two-part system is similar to the so-

called "Buchedd" system in Wales (Day and Fitton 1975) where

certain families or family segments are considered less

respectable than others, but they are all still Welsh.

A commitment to one's entire extended family is the

rule for the old line Minorcan families. One Minorcan

informant described the scene on the afternoon one of his

clan members was indicted for murder. Within hours, fifty

males from both the respectable and less respectable

branches of the family had assembled at the patriarch's

house. Before the evening was over they had mapped out a

strategy for hiring a good defense lawyer including taking

donations from all assembled and for caring for the

defendants's wife and children while he was in jail.

When outsiders talk about St. Augustine's "Rednecks"

some of the Minorcans may be included. However, although

the overly-macho image of Southern rednecks may have been

adopted by some Minorcans, underneath a general ease of

manner prevails, except--and this is a big exception--when

threatened from without, when violence can and does hold

sway. In general, though, and in the ordinary course of

affairs, respectibility is a characteristic cultural value,

to the extent that few are found in the welfare and mental

health systems.

These were initially village people some of whom still

find it congenial to live in family enclaves, own things

jointly, and share resources. Minorcans originally lived

within the old town, and later expanded into North City

where they owned land which they formerly used as garden

plots. A goodly number of families later resettled in West

Augustine. In the latter area today they are interspersed

in neighborhoods with other working-class whites.

A white group which early in territorial days, and even

before, immigrated to St. Augustine was composed of the

Southern, white yeoman class. Since these were usually male

individuals, they frequently intermarried with Minorcan

girls. Except for the Hispanic aspect in this meld of

Minorcans and white southerners, the resulting culture was

not unlike that which Lingeman (1980) describes for the

western frontier. There, mixing of town oriented peoples

and "outliver" agrarians took place, creating the uniquely

American frontier society where independence blended with

family and group loyalty, and town and hinterland existed in

a special relationship. However, in St. Augustine the

nucleated "pueblo" orientation somewhat overshadowed the

incoming rural lifeway characteristic of the American South,

and has remained a significant feature to this day.

It must be emphasized here that it is the folk-

centering of the Minorcan group which has been dealt with in

the above description. However, a number are now near the

top of the social pyramid in town. These substantial

citizens largely partake of the world view of the Solid

Citizens group to be discussed later in the chapter.

The Water Streeters

Another inmigrating Anglo group from New England and

New York was smaller in number than the Southern whites, but

greater in cultural influence. In St. Augustine these

northerners found a southern community unusual in its town

orientation, and with a nucleated layout, giving on a

central green, reminiscent of their home communities.

This group which became the base for the Anglo-

Protestant elite in St. Augustine, are now described as "The

Water Street Crowd," although they have been called "The Old

English" (Colburn 1985). These families, many of whom now

live in places other than Water Street, presently number

perhaps fifty all told. They trickled into the community

throughout the nineteenth century. Some first came to seek

health cures for themselves or members of their families;

others, as the century wore on, settled in the community as

the result of the Flagler boom and the railroad and land

management that accompanied it. Some of the group spent

only part of the year in St. Augustine, a pattern still true

of a few present-day descendants. In the early years of

this century their abodes lined Water Street next to the bay

north of the fort, but today some of the Victorian houses

have been bought by others who were attracted by the elite

image of the street.

Water Streeters now commonly belong to Trinity

Episcopal church, the oldest parish of that denomination in

Florida, or to Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church. The

men are associated with each other in business or clubs

while the defining clubs for the women are the Woman's

Exchange and the Colonial Dames. Not all of the Water

Street women belong to both organizations. The Woman's

Exchange was established in 1892 to help poor women in the

community to sell their handiwork. "Poor women" in this

case were the Minorcans or "Spanish" as they were then

called. This was such an exclusive white Protestant elite

club that no Catholic woman was admitted to membership until

well into the present century.

The Colonial Dames of America is a prestigious national

organization in which membership depends on proving descent

from an ancestor who took a leadership role in the colonies

which became the original 13 states. The nearest chapter of

this organization is the one in Jacksonville, and local

members have joined with those from Jacksonville to

undertake quality restoration in the town. In fact, there

are a few wealthy women from the metropolitan area who have

contributed substantial amounts of money to various

historical projects and who have also lent their prestige to

Boards of Directors of organizations involved with


In discussing the elite group, the continued connection

with the Flagler heirs should be mentioned. Most prominent

is Lawrence Lewis, Jr., who lives in Richmond, Virginia, but

has poured millions of dollars into St. Augustine, including

the establishment of Flagler College. If Henry Flagler was

a resort entrepreneur, then Lawrence Lewis will be

remembered as the scion of historical scholarship and

restoration in the town. Symbolically, Lewis keeps his

yacht anchored off one of the Water Street private docks.

Members of the Protestant elite in St. Augustine are
well-educated and cultivated in their tastes and set a

refined tone in the town. Moreover, idealism is part of the

ethos. With the puritan New Englanders' cultural image of

"'visible saints' in a state of grace" as Lingeman (1980:25)

describes it, their early reforming spirit met head on with

the coexistence pattern prevailing theretofore in St.

Augustine. The reformer spirit of the early years has by
now blended with other traditions, occasioned in part by

intermarriage with non-New Englanders and more than a

century of residence in the town.

The Blacks

The blacks compose another traditional group with a

long history in the area, stretching back to Spanish slave
times. Impressive, but little recognized, is the fact that

the first black birth was recorded in 1596 in St. Augustine,

several decades before any slaves were present in Virginia.

In the 1830 census, taken nine years after Florida became a

territory of the United States, they comprised nearly half

of the population of St. Augustine. Now they live mainly in

Lincolnville and West Augustine.

Overall this is an impoverished group with low social

status, a common pattern in southern cities. Religious

institutions are primary, but show a different distribution
than in other areas of the south. The dominant faiths are

today Protestant, but about forty parishioners are now left

from a once-larger black Catholic congregation. In a

significant spatial parallel the St. Paul AME Church, with
the largest black Protestant congregation, faces St.

Benedict the Moor Catholic Church across the central section

of Lincolnville's main business thoroughfare, just as the

white churches stand off across the downtown plaza. Indeed,

black history and cultural forms are often a replica of the

white, even including that rarity, a black Episcopal Church.

Some black families were traditionally attached to the
more elite town families as servants. Until recent decades

a parallel structure existed so that the status of the white

family being served was mirrored by the status in the black

community. As one informant told me, "used to be when the

police know what a nice family you work for they don't mess

with you." Certain of these black families still have

patronal relationships with the same white families as their

ancestors did.

Until the middle of the 1960s Florida Memorial College,

the third largest black college in Florida, occupied a

campus on the western edge of town, providing a small center

of black intellectual elite to which status black people in

the community related. As in the white community, doctors

(and dentists) formerly were a respected sector of the


Solid Citizens

Below the elite Water Streeters is a middle-class group

which will be referred to as Solid Citizens. This is not a

homogeneous group, and is composed of families which, for

the most part, immigrated by intent or accident. Some

stayed after military occupation of the town, others came

because of health or governmental or business opportunities.

In later years a fair number were attracted by the town's

historical image and coastal location and remained to become

significant townspeople.

The group equates roughly with the class strata

designated "Upper Middle Class" which Warner et al.

(1960:66-67) describe as "not in the top group, but good

substantial people, the level just below the top group...

the strivers, people who are into everything, the community


If we could name one area where the more prosperous

have commonly lived, at least in the last fifty years, it

would be Davis Shores at the northern end of Anastasia

Island. However, as in the case of the Water Street group,

younger members have moved out to newer developments,

usually to areas outside the corporate limits. The

composition of this mid-group shifts constantly, with people

moving elsewhere and new faces being added regularly.

Included in this group may be young professionals with jobs

in education or government service or middle managers in the

business or industrial sectors. The increase in numbers and

percentage of these Solid Citizens has amplified the middle

class layer in what once resembled a semi-feudal system.

Whereas the Minorcan and Water Street groups are almost

always Catholic and Protestant, respectively, the Solid

Citizens are a mixture. Minorcans who work in white collar

employment or have achieved responsible positions are found

among the Solid Citizens as illustrated in Figure 4. Also ,

among this Solid Citizen group we find some individuals of

Mediterranean descent who are not part of the Minorcan

group. They are instead composed of families of Italians,

who came as fishing families in the early part of this

century; with also some Lebanese, Greeks, and a few others

of miscellaneous Mediterranean origin. Their significance

belies their small numbers for they appear to play a

mediating role in certain community structures; bridging the

Catholic-Protestant, Southerner-New Englander, Urban-Rural

dualities which abrade each other at times.

Peacock (1975:204) has spoken of the status which

doctors enjoy in the American South. They, along with

judges, military leaders, political figures, and clergymen
are community heroes in a culture where admiration of

leaders is still important. The doctor in St. Augustine has

had an especially favored place. As a group, doctors were

present in some numbers dating from the early part of the
nineteenth century when St. Augustine was a health resort.

Unlike their counterparts elsewhere, at mid-twentieth

century they still played vital civic roles outside their

profession. For example, a medical doctor was mayor during
the civil rights demonstrations. They were, until the

1970s, when a schism occurred which resulted in two

hospitals and a weakening of their unity, a closed corporate

group which championed the conservative ideology of the
community. Old residents and much of the Catholic community

are served by Flagler Hospital, now about to move from its

long-time location in town to a new medical complex on U. S.
1 South. They will then be opposite St. Augustine General

Hospital which serves newcomers and part of the old
Protestant community. According to informants, the medical

society is no longer a viable organization because of

divisiveness in the medical community.

Certain of the men of the Solid Citizen group have

blended with those of the Water Street group to form a small

leadership cadre in the town, a significant and close-knit

group which managed town affairs for many years. Their

position has diffused somewhat since the 1970s. These

included a rancher, a banker, a doctor, several lawyers, a

road contractor, a couple of real estate men, and others

with diverse business interests. Several times in the 20th

century a single man has surfaced to carry a strong

leadership role, almost a political "boss" position. In

each of the instances these power brokers came from

elsewhere. Once they carved a niche for themselves locally,

they rose to positions of significant influence in the

community and represented the town to the state and nation.

The Laborers

While we have chosen to discuss the Minorcans as a

group regardless of their social status, they blend with

non-Catholic whites at the lower end of the socio-economic

scale. These are members of the unskilled or semi-skilled

group who may be Baptist or Pentecostal in persuasion, but

more often belong to no church at all. This lower income

group, a sizable portion of the corporate population,

together with the high percentage of the black population

who are at the lower end of the scale, account for much of

the poverty of the town. The whites of this group are often
referred to as "locals," but like the term "cracker" in the

south, the appellation is frequently extended upward in the

social scale to designate natives or near natives of the


Shores People

The new retirees in town are referred to as "Shores

People" after St. Augustine Shores, the first, and still the

largest, development built by outside development interests.
The enclave is situated on U.S. 1 about eight miles south of

the center of St. Augustine. The very expression "from the

Shores" conjures up an image of a retired couple from the

North living on a fixed income and associating less with the

townspeople than with others like themselves. Nevertheless,

this is a mixed picture, since with the death of some of the

original owners, some of the property has been sold or

rented out to younger families.

Shores People, and other immigrant retirees living

elsewhere in the area, replicate the traditional religious

constellation of the community, with Catholics and

Protestants appropriately represented. St. Augustine is

known as a congenial retirement area for Catholics.

Separate churches of most denominations have been built
close to the main retirement cluster to service these new

residents, and their separate geographical position

displaces them from many segments of St. Augustine life.

Their own conception of themselves as outsiders is enhanced

by the number of cars, usually of a substantial Detroit

make, to be seen about with Shores signs displayed in the

front license spot.

It is difficult to arrive at the exact number of

retirees in the greater St. Augustine area, but it would

appear that this group constitutes almost one-third of the

population. A market profile (Beldon Research Associates

1987) for the St. Augustine Record, covering approximately

the same area as I have designated as the St. Augustine

community, shows 27% retired, while 37% of the population is

over fifty-five years of age. The median age of adults in

the area is forty-five years whereas the national median is

forty years. The number of retired people claiming St.

Augustine as home appears to be increasing.

The Coquina Crowd

Another significant group for discussion is a

relatively new one in community studies, and its nexus is

ideological. In tourist centers of any historical or ethnic

importance, money and other resources are being used more

and more to preserve and interpret the historical or

traditional heritage. Communities are assisted in

displaying themselves in an "authentic" yet attractive way

for visitors. The professional work involved has an

economic rationale, but those professionals--historians,

archeologists, historic architects, anthropologists,

curators, museum people, and city planners--often have a

dedication and zeal, bordering on the religious, over and

above material gain.

This reform movement, and I believe that it can be

called that given the revitalization enthusiasm of its

practitioners, began in St. Augustine with the formation in

the late 1950s of the St. Augustine Historical Restoration

and Preservation Commission, later renamed the Historic St.

Augustine Preservation Board, a state agency. Plans were

then being formulated to properly showcase the town at the

time of the quadricentennial in 1965.

Precoursers had existed. The St.Augustine Historical

Society, an organization started in the 19th century by the

town's elite, was the principal arbiter of historical

representations and scholarship. Later the National Park

Service entered the scene taking over the management of the

old fort from the Historical Society and adding Fort

Matanzas at the southern tip of Anastasia Island as well.

The decision by the state of Florida to underwrite research

and preservation in the town effectively moved such activity

from a gentleman's avocation to a professional and business


For convenience, professionals engaged in this work and

others affiliated in principle with them will be called

"Coquina Ethic People." Grimes (1976:26) has described a

parallel group in his study of Santa Fe, New Mexico, as

those with an "adobe ethic." The ideology of such groups

revolves around authenticity, preservation, accurate

restoration, and proper interpretation. The villains are

fakery, tourist sleaze, cheap gift shops, garish signs, and

on and on.

The adherents of this group are now a powerful force in

the town, and for a small city constitute a sizable group.

Adherence to strictly held precepts rather than social or

class background is important. At the center are the

educated professionals, several of whom are nationally

known. Others are drawn from local groups. One calls to

mind at least one Minorcan, several Water Streeters, and a

solid citizen. Even one of the non-Minorcan Mediterraneans

previously mentioned can be counted. More or less connected

are some of the Flagler College faculty, hired interpreters

at historic sites who have adopted strong convictions about

authentic display, some of the small art colony, and the

reenactors. The last became prominent during the

Bicentennial in 1976, and are a local counterpart of

reenactment groups in historical cities all over the United


The prizing of the past, the preservation, even

freezing, of towns or parts of communities as museum

displays, is a movement in evidence all over the world.

Greenwood (1972;1977) in his study of Fuenterrabia, Spain,

found a comparable group in a decision-making position in

the town. In the United States, credentialing of the past

is part of a coming of age of the nation, even a new kind of

patriotism, part of the things "that made America great."

The fact that the consumers are tourists seems almost

incidental at times. The value system of the Coquina Ethic

group in St. Augustine is so pervasive and of such moral

strength that outright opposition has been meager.

Occasionally a home owner complains that "they won't even

let me tear down an old broken down garage," but more

commonly opposition is devious or couched in the rhetoric of

progress, attracting more tourists and the like. It is

difficult to fight an elite constituency which presents

itself as above crass commercialism, whose dedication is to

improve the historical image of the entire town as it:

presents itself to the World.

Other Social Groups

Several exotic elements have been added to the

community in the past few years. A small group of families

of East Indian extraction add their colorful dress to the

landscape. While some are doctors and their families,

others operate economy motels and restaurants, and other

small tourist related businesses.

A little known fact is that St. Augustine has a small

"Spanish Harlem" (an informant who is a leader in the black

community used this expression). Within this decade a few

Cuban and Puerto Rican migrant laborers moved into

Lincolnville. At first they were almost invisible because

they followed the migrant labor circuit for most of the

year, but gradually some have found jobs in town. The

majority speak Spanish and interact with a certain part of

the black group.

Also, a group of German nationals, living mostly in one
condominium complex, spend a good portion of the year in the

community. The German-American club, Octoberfests, and an

annual concert by an imported German band are now a part of

the St. Augustine scene.

Another small group is composed of those who are

frequently referred to in St. Augustine as "hippies." They

are those of the counter-culture generation who prefer to

remain outside of the American cultural mainstream,

rejecting commercial values and living a "free" lifestyle.
While some reside in the town all year, others summer in the

north and winter in St. Augustine. They were at their most

visible a few years ago in demonstrations for a local

midwife whom the medical profession attempted to prevent

from practicing in the community. The case received state

and national attention.

Some of the counter-culture group live on boats at the

city dock and on the San Sebastian River and are part of

what are locally known as the "Boat People." However, the

Boat People are not easily classified because there are

several enclaves. The older boat residents are the ones

more likely to be winter residents only, while the year-

around boat dwellers tend to be younger, including a small

group of Flagler College students. The younger group, below

the age of forty-five, have their own celebrations, notably

at Halloween and Easter.

The art colony in the town has waxed and waned since

becoming part of the scene in the 19th century. Presently

it is building up again, and, if dabblers are counted along

with professionals and serious amateurs, the number may be

as high as one thousand. That art is scheduled to receive

bed tax funds speaks to the growing significance of the



St. Augustine is at heart a conservative community;

some even use the word reactionary. Hartley (1972:2)

concluded that "St. Augustine was one of the most

conservative cities in the United States in the early 1960s,

even by north Florida and southern standards." Some

amelioration of this stance has been evident in the last two

decades, although such counterdrift falls far short of

altering the basic character of the community.

Traditionally the community has aligned with the

political right in every major state election of the century

with the exception of the vote in 1916 against Sidney J.

Catts, whose anti-Catholic campaign was part of his

platform. In recent years the county vote has been

Republican in national elections. Although a two-thirds

majority of the voters in the county are registered

Democrats, in the presidential elections there were

landslide votes for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, while

the community showed a majority for Gerald Ford when Jimmy

Carter was elected. In the recent election for United

States Senator the county vote was for Republican Paula

Hawkins when statewide the election was won by Democrat Bob


Conservatism takes ascendence over party or southern

allegiance. Religious adherence, family autonomy, anti-

taxes, non-union, American patriotism, pro-military, anti-

abortion, sports-minded, pro-segregation, free enterprise,

have all been part of the world view of a majority of the

town's citizens through its recent history.

Occasionally these firm lines have provided fertile

soil for organizations such as the John Birch Society and

the Ku Klux Klan, whose declining influence in recent times

speaks to the increasing cosmopolitan mien of the community.

At the end of the 1960s the Parent Teacher Organization

(PTO) initiating chapter was formed in St. Augustine, in

protest to the PTA whose liberal stance in the country,

particularly its stand on racial integration, was deplored.

What of internal politics? Until recently, as

described, a closely interacting business and professional

class furnished the controlling leadership, and the City

Commission was the center of action. In the early

territorial and statehood years of American occupation a

moiety system was evident in the election of

Minorcan/Catholic majority commissions alternating with

Anglo/Protestant majority commissions. Such oscillation was

not a matter of each constituency tossing the other out, but

rather appears to have been related to several factors

including ward boundaries and personal prestige unrelated to

group membership. The net result seems to have been a

gentleman's informal agreement on town governance so that

neither constituency went too far out of the prevailing

structure, and economic and political stability was

therefore maintained.

Later commissions did not present as clear a picture,

and eventually in the 1970s blacks and women were elected.

By then, however, much of the decision making had moved to

the County Commission, the Chamber of Commerce, and various

state bodies. This shift was occasioned by the declining

tax base of the town as more and more land came under tax-

free ownership. The virtual impossibility of expanding

corporate limits under existing law was also a factor. The

increasing interest of outside developers in constructing

tourist facilities, condominiums, malls, and service

facilities outside the town boundaries moved the primary

economic decision making process to the County Commission.

Meanwhile the city is faced with making political judgments

affecting the historic nature of the old town area.

That the old order changeth is graphically illustrated

by the movement now underway to change the five county

commission districts. Presently commissioners are elected

by a county-wide vote but each must reside in a separate

district, one of the five which "pie" into the town. This

gerrymandering has insured town control of the county. It

maintains still the old Spanish city-state format where a

town's domain was all the surrounding area up to the often

disputed line claimed by another town. Planned

redistricting in St. Augustine calls for single member

districts with the boundaries more representative of county



The problem of tourist development and local control

has been dealt with extensively in the tourism literature.

One model delineates a process whereby local control and

initiative are superceded by outside money and power once a

certain quantitative and qualitative level of tourism is

reached (Greenwood 1972; Noronha 1977). However, Peck and

Lepie (1977), among others, argue that such development can
take one of several paths. In this vein, Cohen (1979) has

divided tourism systems into those growing organically from

within as opposed to those which are induced from outside.

St. Augustine's course has been mixed encompassing

periods of growth induced from the outside--the Flagler

Period and the present decade--interspersed with periods

when tourism grew and was managed locally. Although the

Flagler Period produced irreversible effects, generally it

is concluded that the tourist industry has had the advantage

of building slowly through time so that small operators and

local control are still in existence. From the old days of

word-of-mouth and some sporadic advertising, attraction of

tourists is now being professionalized. National and

international markets are being tapped so that the town is

on bus tour routes, and cruise boats dock regularly. Within

town, tourists move about on foot, or take trailer trains or

horse drawn carriages.

Seasonal, yearly, and unpredictable cycles exist.

Feast and famine where tourists are concerned is expected

and the town adapts to the ebb and flow. Reverberations of

large or small cycles in the wider world affect numbers and

kinds of tourists. The gasoline shortage of the mid 1970s

was devastating to the local economy, and the closedown of

some factories in the North provided an unexpected tourist

bonanza one winter. Some shifts in tourism are easily

explained. For example, the summer tourist season in St.

Augustine was shortened when a trend to earlier fall school

openings occurred in the north. It seems somewhat humorous

that this small town's pocketbook should be affected by a


complex chain of events that started with a series of colder

winters in the north, which led to lost school days for

children due to snow which, eventually led northern state

and local school boards to move school starting dates into

late August. Recently some northern area schools are also

recessing for a week or more in February to save fuel,

leading to increased spring visitation in St. Augustine and

other Florida destinations.

Some shifts defy explanation. The summer of 1986 was a

prime example. A good season was expected because it was

thought that tension abroad would cause Americans to

vacation closer to home, and, conversely, the position of

the dollar would attract international travelers. As

expected, the St. Augustine year started off with a good

Easter season, but after a record 30,000 people watched the

fireworks on the Fourth of July, the season fell flat. No

one knows why. This constant uncertainty is nothing new to

the town, and, it would seem, even promotes the closing of

ranks that has already been mentioned and the crucial

importance of community unity.

Tourism is certainly not confined to historic town

visitation but also encompasses use of the natural

environment--taking advantage of the wide beaches, less

populated than those to the south in Florida, and engaging

in water sports such as sailing, surfing, and fishing.

Crescent Beach, where summer homes and condos stretch to

north and south along the beach, is an example. Many of the

homes are owned by those from nearby towns, such as faculty

from the University of Florida at Gainesville, or Palatka

businessmen. One condominium complex is a sometime

residence of an entire social group from urban Jacksonville.

When the University of Florida is in session the traffic to

Crescent Beach on a warm weekend day may be bumper to

bumper. Most of these day or weekend visitors do not visit
historic St. Augustine on a regular basis but may be

attracted by special events or can be found "doing the town"

when they are rained out at the beach.

Good weather or the right time of year fills the

campgrounds between Crescent Beach and St. Augustine Beach,

and in Vilano Beach as well. Several times a year resorts

host annual sporting events such as the Hobie Cat sailing

competition at Easter. Nor are tourists lacking in other

parts of the county such as Ponte Vedra, an exclusive area

with at least a fifty-year resort history.

Once a town is a tourist destination it becomes a mecca

for various one time or annual events. As an example, the

Wally Byam Caravaners set up a temporary city of their sleek

Airstream trailers each Easter season at the county

fairgrounds, ten miles west of St. Augustine.

The St. Augustine Image

St. Johns County's natural environment partakes of the

Florida image of sunshine, wide beaches, palm trees, and a

leisurely, sometimes sensual, lifestyle, or, more properly,

vacation style.

The image of historic St. Augustine is incongruent with

this tropical paradise image, but carries its own illusion

of a romantic past. Its position as the "Oldest City" lends

a unique quality. Town boosters are proud of a romantic

Spanish tradition, of the grandeur of past times, of the

coquina buildings with balconies overhanging narrow streets,

of the old world village atmosphere. Visitors are

admonished to be sure to visit the old fort, the restored

area, Lightner Museum, the Cathedral, the "Oldest House",

and other points of interest. The Chamber of Commerce

literature describes the town as follows:

Boasting the credentials of the oldest
permanent settlement in the United States, St.
Augustine has spread its singular charm from an
Atlantic Ocean boundary on the east to the St .
Johns River on the west. Visitors from all over
the world come by the millions each year to relive
the Old World Flavor of the nation's "first city."
[St. Augustine/St. Johns County Chamber of
Commerce 1985:5]

This is not to indicate universal pride on the part of

community people. Many, and this includes some descendants

of old families, are ahistorical and the attractiveness of

the town to outsiders is of no relevance in their lives.

The scrawled graffiti on the post of the Public Market in

the Plaza, "Locals are number 1," demonstrates outright


Visitors are not themselves without ambivalence about

the town. As one said, "I like St. Augustine, and everyone

does, and generally without knowing why; one is bored to

death half the time, and yet fascinated with the place; it

is so quaint, old and different from any other place in

America" (Barnes and Fairbanks 1933:54). Although this

sentiment could have been expressed today, it is, in fact,

the diary entry of a young girl visiting the town in the


St. Augustine is rich in symbols, those signifiers or

emblems which as shorthand representations stand for the

whole. The following list is not meant to be exhaustive,

but the main sacred and secular symbols are presented.

Coquina, the conglomerate rock ubiquitous in St.

Augustine architecture, has already been mentioned. It is

itself a diffuse symbol whose meaning is articulated through

the buildings which have become symbols--notably the fort,

the city gate, the houses of the town, and the facades of

the Ponce de Leon and Alcazar Hotels which are made of

crushed coquina cement. The watch tower at the northeast

corner of the fort is frequently used as a symbol for St.

Augustine. Its simple, distinctive lines and its "sentinel

quality" project a message of protection. Sometimes a tower

on one of the Flagler Hotels, a later day bastion, is used

to demonstrate Victorian times. The city gate likewise

stands for protection, but also includes welcome in its

message. A street scene when used emphasizes coquina houses

with balconies overhanging a narrow street. The "Oldest

House," employed sometimes to typify the town, combines the

usual St. Augustine house form with a curving palm tree

beside it, thereby combining the exotic and tropical with

the Old World look.

The morion, or conquistador helmet as it is popularly

called, has long been attached to the town because of its

special meaning for the founder myth. It is quite commonly

used on advertising signs, T-shirts, stationery, restaurant

menus, etc. Another head covering, the crown, is used as a

signifier for representations of Spanish royalty.

The Spanish royal coat of arms, that of Ferdinand and

Isabella, with its quartered lions and castles, is

frequently seen. It has served as the logo for the City of

St. Augustine, for example. In the past, the red and yellow

flag bearing this design, actually a royal standard, was

widely assumed by St. Augustinians and other Floridians to

have been the flag of Spain which flew over Florida. Other

flags serve as symbols of the nations which have ruled St.


The most significant symbol of all is the cross and

sword, fused as one icon. This particular symbol did not

come into prominence in St. Augustine until the modern era,

but is of considerable antiquity in the Spanish tradition.

Menindez, while he did not bear a hereditary title, nor did

he carry the honorific "don" before his name, was a member

of the order of Santiago. This prestigious order was a

blend of the religious and military, and Men~ndez,

therefore, wore the special red sword-shaped cross that was

its insignia (Schwaller 1988:299-300).

One of the first times that the cross and sword symbol

was used to represent the town of St. Augustine, however,

was in a museum exhibit installed in the Oldest House Museum

in 1955. The exhibit was dramatically arranged and lighted

so that the sword cast a shadow which looked like the cross.

This signification of aggressive Christianity is now one of

the most commonly used for the town. Cross and Sword is the

name of the historical play performed nightly at the

amphitheater during the summer season. It is "Florida's

official state play" and is based on the founding of the

town and the story of Menindez and an Indian maiden. It was

written by Paul Green who wrote outdoor historical dramas

for other colonial areas such as Williamsburg, Virginia.

The cross and the sword are sometimes used separately,

but then they do not carry the unique St. Augustine message.

An illustration is the large cross erected at the Catholic

Shrine at the time of the Quadricentennial.

Mullet is a humorous St. Augustine signifier. As the

commonest and most easily obtained fish in St. Augustine

waters, it symbolizes lowly food available for everyone.

The local paper is sometimes facetiously referred to as the

"mullet wrapper", and once the high school football team was

called "The Fighting Mullets."

The Chamber of Commerce stationery contains a number of

the symbols mentioned. The logo used is a quartered shield

with the four quarters containing the lion, the castle, the

United States eagle, and the Great Seal of the State of

Florida. A cross, shaped like one carried by the crusaders,

is centered in the division of the shield. On top is a

section proclaiming "400th anniversary" and below is "1565,

St. Augustine, 1965" on a furl. The whole is topped by a

bearded conquistador wearing a morion. Likewise, stationery

for the city of St. Augustine has a color run of the Spanish

royal coat of arms poised above the city gate with palm

trees in the background.

A Festive December Day

The first Saturday in December, in the mid-1980s,

embraces three elements. It is Pal Day, an annual event

begun in 1957, significantly the year which marked the

beginning of other modern festivals in the town. Sponsored

by the USO, it hosts a courtesy day in St. Augustine for

servicemen and their families from surrounding areas,

drawing mainly from the Jacksonville military installations.

Service personnel are asked to dress in uniform for easy

identification. Free admission is given to most local

attractions and a gratis ham dinner is served at the Elks

Club. Pal Day is described as a "day of thanks to those who

serve our country."

Secondly, this is the day that the annual Christmas

parade, sponsored by the Jaycees and downtown merchants

section of the Chamber of Commerce, takes place. Such

events occur in towns and cities all over the United States,

initiating the Christmas cycle. Christmas in U.S. culture

is of overriding importance socially and commercially, the

one big festival of the year. Part of its central position

in the festival calendar stems from its celebration of the

Holy Family which mirrors the prevalent nuclear family

kinship form in the United States. It also reifies children

in this child-oriented culture.

That military families are chosen for this honor is no

accident. Military personnel have been ubiquitous in St.

Augustine from the time that Spanish soldiery set foot on

local soil in the sixteenth century to the present day when

the Florida National Guard has its state headquarters in the

old English barracks (earlier a Spanish convent) in the

southern end of town next to the National Cemetery.

After some minor events during the afternoon, the third

major component of the day is the Christmas Illumination and

Night Watch Ceremony. This event, earlier called the Grand

Illumination Ceremony, was initiated in the early 1970s in

anticipation of the U. S. Bicentennial, and honored the

English occupation of St. Augustine in the 18th century.

Initially, it was not on the same Saturday in December as

Pal Day.

The Illumination in honor of the English was so

successful that a counterpart event, the Spanish

Illumination and Night Watch, which takes place in the

summer, was added in the late 1970s. The complementary

Anglo and Spanish elements are affirmed in these twin


The Grand Illumination is sponsored by Coquina

Ethic/preservation interests. The Historic St. Augustine

Preservation Board, the state agency, was instrumental in

starting the ceremony. Later the local reenactment groups

took over much of the responsibility and instituted a

military encampment for comparable reenactment units from

other communities. The Grand Illumination then became the

high point of the encampment weekend.

The December Illumination has a vague connection with

local history. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of

the Blessed Virgin is positioned on December 8th in the

Catholic liturgical calendar. From the documents we know

that this feast day was celebrated at least until 1821 in

St. Augustine by the lighting of festive candles in the

windows of homes of the town on December 7th and 8th.

Modern organizers and celebrants are probably unaware of

this bridge to the past.

The fusion of a number of elements which we have been

describing is graphically illustrated by a photograph

accompanying a newspaper story (St. Augustine Record,

December 3, 1982) on the 25th anniversary of Pal Day (Figure

5). A serviceman and his family are shown being greeted by

a costumed Menindez holding a sword. The husband's and

wife's arms rest on a Christmas parade float titled "The

Annunciation." Only Santa Claus, the secular deity of the

day, is missing, although perhaps Menindez as the symbol of

the "giving city" and its founding father is his


The two parades which anchor the day at the beginning

and the end (although the Illumination is more properly a

procession), are structurally speaking a marking of the

geographical bounds. Neville (1979) describes a similar

form called the "common ridings" for the burgh-centered

towns of southern Scotland. Such ridings demarcated the

traditional boundary lines and championed the unsullied

unity (in diversity) of the cities in which they took place.

The symbolic human line of townspeople, expatriates, and

visitors traversing the bounded space provides a strong

emotional link with the past and with the present community.

It serves the individual with a visceral affirmation of his

position with his fellows in the known world.

Figure 6 shows the routes of the two parades in 1986 in

St. Augustine. The Christmas parade follows the same route

Pal Day visitors

Figure 5.

Figure 6. Parade Routes.

year after year while the Grand Illumination route has

varied during its history. In the year illustrated, the two

routes coincided in two places--by the Plaza, the middle of

the old town and still the symbolic center of the community,

and, second, along the northern boundary of the town by the

City Gate. The gate faces northward toward the only side

unprotected by water, the side from which attack by land

sometimes came. It is also the direction from which

tourists customarily enter the town today. Moreover, it is

from the northward direction that those bent on economic

development intrude, and it is from this direction that

Jacksonville is slowly creeping southward.

The Christmas parade bounds the historic Minorcan

Quarter, now, as noted, the section of town which is tourist

space. The Illumination takes the customary tourist routes

down past the plaza to the the south in a two block loop,

and back to St. George Street, then through the restored

area with another loop back to St. George Street and hence

again to the plaza. The tourist street has then been twice

traversed. Looked at in another way, the Christmas Parade

route exactly bounds the tourist preserve, providing a

containment of that area, while the Illumination route

penetrates the modern-day tourist zone.

Personnel in the two events also show a contrast. Of

all the public events during the year the Christmas parade

draws the most representative mix of local citizens. The

crowd also tends to be younger than is frequently the case

at St. Augustine events. Black family visibility is greater

than at any other time. Black organizations and

associations enter floats and units, and for several years a

Black Santa Claus threw candy from the back of a pickup

truck, much as his white counterpart tosses

candy from his perch on the back of a fire engine.
Virtually the only outsiders are the Pal Day families which

are, however, there in considerable numbers. The true

character of the event's participants is illustrated by the

surprise of two anthropologists visiting in 1982 who noted

the "working class look" of most of the local spectators.

The Illumination stands in contrast. A rough count of

those present for the affair in 1986 showed a nearly equal

three part distribution. About one-third were tourists,

including a few Pal Day visitors, but mainly other regional

visitors with quite a number from Jacksonville, as confirmed

by a car license survey. Another third were new or

relatively new residents of the town, mostly Shores people.

Lastly, there were local people, mainly coquina ethic

adherents, civic leaders, and town boosters. Visiting

reenactment groups, which had been invited and were camped

in the backyards of several of the exhibit buildings of the

state preservation board, constituted an element partaking

of the local preservation ethic and also representing a

special kind of tourist.

The structure and content of the two events may now be

examined. The Christmas parade separates participants--

floats, bands, and other riding and walking units--from

onlookers. This separation does not preclude some

interaction between the two constituencies, however.

Santa's candy-tossing creates interaction all along the

route. Sometimes spectators break into Christmas caroling.

High school bands, those with a high black membership, are

doing the characteristic short-stepping, or jive-walking as

it is sometimes called, and black youths may step out of the

crowd to join in for half a block or so. Naturally, there

is also the calling out to friends or relatives in the

parade on the part of the spectators.

Characteristically a theme is chosen, frequently

something related to St. Augustine's history. In 1982 it

was "Historic Pages of Christmas Through the Ages." A

number of floats each year carry religious themes, some

Catholic, others frankly Protestant, a few with ambiguous

messages such as one entitled "Christianity Comes to America

1565." On that float a priest was shown greeting a male

figure who could have been either Ponce de Le~n or Mendndez,

while a female figure in characteristic 18th century British

dress stood to the side in this encounter tableaux.

As in the foregoing, dress is often confused as to

eras, although in some years the reenactment people marching

in the parade lend more authenticity. Generally a

conquistador helmet or a tricorn hat serves to indicate past

times for the men and a long full dress carries the historic

message for the women. A long dress of brocade, satin and

lace with a crown on the head is the icon for royalty. The

St. Augustine Royal Family is so attired; these

representatives of the grandeur of the town's "royal"

Spanish past are the visible manifestations of the Minorcan

revitalization movement to be treated more fully in Chapter


The role of Santa Claus bears closer scrutiny. He is,

it might be said, the most welcome snowbird of them all, the

seasonal tourist who receives the warmest welcome. In

addition to the white and black Santas in the parade, if we

travel south on U.S.1 we find still another counterpart

enthroned in splendor in the center of the Ponce de Leon

Mall, a role enacted each year by a retiree from the Shores.

The white parade Santa, is strictly the economic envoy of

the Downtown Merchants Association. After spreading his

bounty to the children and blowing kisses to the good

looking girls during the parade, he is positioned in the

plaza to hear the Christmas lists of the children.

Merchants that afternoon keep longer hours in anticipation

of additional business. Symbolically, one year in a vivid

color-run in the local newspaper, Santa was shown descending

in his sleigh through the City Gate.

In the Christmas parade, besides Santa Claus, various

deities and royalty are represented--Santa Claus, Men~ndez,

sometimes Ponce de Le6n, the Virgin Mary and Jesus, usually

as a baby, and the St. Augustine Royal Family. However,in

spite of its local flavor, the Christmas parade could take

place in "Anytown", USA, whereas the Illumination Ceremony
has unique aspects which make it a drawing card for

tourists. Let us take a closer look at the typical

Illumination event of recent years.

The 1986 flyer announcing the occasion was titled

"Night Watch and Illumination Ceremony", while the schedule
of events on the same announcement was headed "Christmas

Illumination 1986." It was described as follows:

This ceremony is based on a military routine
practiced during the 18th century in British
frontier garrison towns. Every evening, as a
precaution against surprise attack or civil
disorder, the gates of the town were locked, a
guard posted, and citizens required to carry
lights as they walked the streets. On certain
ceremonial occasions, the troops embellished the
procedure with music, drills, and a "Volley of
Joy" from their muskets. 18th century military
regulations clearly outline the procedure. Half
an hour before sunset, troops marched from each
gate to the governor's house to collect the keys,
after which they returned to the gates, posted a
guard, and locked the portals. The keys were then
sent back to the governor. Once the gates were
locked, citizens who went about were obligated to
carry lights so that they could be seen and
identified. After the gate was secured, the
regulations read and the guard posted, troops of
the garrison fire a Volley of Joy to salute their
King, George III.

In the modern ceremony, local and visiting reenactment

groups march from a position near the City Gate to the Plaza

where they assemble on the east side of Government House, a

historic reconstruction of the governor's residence and

office in colonial times, now housing the state preservation

offices. On the balcony of this structure, the dignitaries

are waiting.

Meanwhile, a sizable group of people has gathered

expectantly in the plaza. Mostly these are middle class,

with some of the more affluent visitors easily identified as

what the shopkeepers in town refer to as the "Mercedes

Crowd." Word of mouth usually brings regional visitors, and

some have been attracted by publicity given to the festivity

in recent years in slick magazines such as Southern Living.

In the 1986 event a new element was added, a few middle

class blacks, several of them local.

A certain number of the local people are set apart by

wearing historic dress. Newspaper articles encourage the

wearing of "simple" 18th century attire. This authentic

tone is violated in some instances by dress of the wrong

period, particularly by the newcomer retirees, while those

of the Coquina Ethic and civic leaders are in proper "period

dress." The word "costume" is never, never used. In-group

strictures call for exact clothing replicas, hand-sewn

preferred, of historic materials--no polyester, no zippers,

no jewelry except for a few approved types such as crosses

or historically correct glasses. Properly, no underwear is

worn, although transgressions along this line are difficult
to detect. Visiting reenactment groups show variations

through the uniforms of the units which they portray, and

their camp-followers display some regional variations, but

still all of the correct time period. Diversity here lends

an exotic note, although not far off the mix that might have

been present in St. Augustine during the American Revolution

when the town was a Loyalist haven. It is not surprising

that the St. Augustine Royal Family with its elaborate

trappings is not among the invited participants; one of the

few public events in St. Augustine where The Family fails to

appear. (See Chapters III and IV for extensive treatment of

the St. Augustine Royal Family).

Every year confusion is evident among the bystanders as
to what is going to happen and when. New, or relatively

new, residents can often be heard explaining the event to

visitors (sometimes inaccurately), putting themselves

thereby within the community fold.

In 1986 disarray was evident on the balcony which was

interpreted by the crowd as "maybe they are waiting for the

mayor, or the announcer, or somebody." Minutes dragged on,
and a few of the Pal Day visitors with tired, cranky

children could be seen leaving. After a while some of the

audience broke out spontaneously singing Christmas carols.

Eventually, the fifes and drums were heard in the distance,

and the crowd clapped, either in appreciation or relief that

some sort of event was to begin at last.

Several performances take place as the marchers settle

in on the street below the balcony. In 1986 a bagpipe band

from North Carolina played several numbers, and a military

group performed a street drill. Then attention turned to

the announcer on the balcony who called for an opening

prayer, given always by a Protestant clergyman for the

Christmas Illumination, while Catholic priests offer the

religious note at the summer Spanish Nightwatch. The

announcer injected some humor by reading the standing orders

to the troops; there were orders to be clean, and not to

molest chickens belonging to the townspeople or to catch

their rabbits--bringing giggles from the crowd. The mayor,

representing the colonial governor, doffed his tricorn and

made a speech of welcome in an 18th century colonial vein.

The mayor in 1986 was especially representative, being of

Minorcan descent, with a master's degree in history, and the

owner of a mensware store on the tourist street.

Spectators were admonished to light candles or lanterns

and make ready to fall into the line of march. Some years

the newspaper has printed directions for making a lantern

from a tin can, and cuffed candles are for sale to tourists

during the week before the event. The torchbearers who will

lead the procession light their torches, attempting to

shelter them from the wind.

First behind the torches come the local dignitaries.

One year the procession was led by three nuns from the local

Sisters of St. Joseph, not entirely in line with the English

Protestant theme, but remarked on favorably by the

bystanders. Then come the military and musical units,
followed by the reenactment camp followers and some of the

local coquina ethic people in period dress. The crowd then

begins to fall in behind, some jockeying for position near
the front.

The transversing of ritual space with participation

open to all celebrants who subscribe to a greater or lesser

degree to the reenactment of this mythical historical
narrative is most properly called a procession. Whether it

is sacred or secular, or a mixture of both, we shall lay

aside for the moment. Grimes (1976:62) has noted that "the

typical activities involved in processions are walking,

carrying, showing, viewing, praying, singing, and being
seen." Stopping at way stations could be added as a common

feature, although this is more characteristic of pilgrimage.

Various subevents at way stations were tried in the early

years of the Illumination but have now been eliminated
because of the size of the crowd.

The impact of the Illumination Procession is hard to

describe in words. The flickering light of the brilliant

torches highlighting the rippling standards and glancing off

the textured coquina walls in the narrow streets is mimicked

by the bobbing light of the candles and lanterns. The
candlelit faces of the marchers float like a stream of masks

in the darker streets. The cadence of the stirring music is

echoed in the marching feet, reverberating down the line to

the last shuffling walkers.

The procession route and timing could barely take care
of the thousands in the procession in 1986. At the end of

the procession a group completely out of range of the front

pageantry, began to sing Christmas carols picking up the

rhythm with their marching feet. Some, unhappy at being so

far from the action, took short cuts to get close to the

lead while others dropped out to return to the plaza to wait

along with the few who did not join the procession at all.

Not all return to the plaza for the ending ceremony.

In 1986 an estimated one third of those who started in the

procession returned to the plaza, all participants falling

into the same configuration as in the opening sequence. The

announcer, as always, gives a little talk to the effect that

the city is now once again secure from the enemy and all is

well, then triumphantly proclaims that a volley of joy will

be fired. In 1986 the splendor of the volley was unequaled,

for, after a few firing displays by individual units, the

riflemen combined to fire fifty muskets in unison. The

deafening roar was met by enthusiastic response from the

crowd as a large sulfurous cloud of smoke drifted toward the


After this display the scheduled Christmas carol

singing was anticlimactic, not nearly as spirited as the
earlier spontaneous caroling, more mechanical. The crowd

sang, one after the other, carols whose words were printed
out on a page which had been passed out to the crowd after

the return to the plaza. Nevertheless, when questioned,

those remaining seemed to think that the carols were a good


Actually, the event did not end with the caroling. A

number of the local people made their way back up St. George

Street to the encampment for rum punch and conviviality--a

"jollification" as it is quaintly called. Some years the

gate to this party has been monitored by a uniformed guard,

speaking in 18th century English fashion, to keep out those

not dressed in period clothes, although frequent exceptions

were made for well known townspeople. In 1985 and 1986 in

an attempt to keep it from being an exclusive event, it was

announced at the plaza that all were welcome to visit the

jollification. A few adventurous souls from out of town did

so. In 1987 no such announcement was made and the party was

in a more obscure area than previously. In the very early

years nonalcoholic beverages and cakes were served on the

plaza, but this became unmanageable once the crowds

increased. In the earlier, years, too, the drinking of

alcoholic beverages was in evidence, but after the city

passed a law banning public drinking the Illumination took
on a sober cast.


The December day celebration described above

illustrates several explanatory models of ritual. It

closely approximates the rite of passage model articulated

by Arnold van Gennep in the first part of this century.

Originally published in French, his definitive work was

later translated into English (van Gennep 1960). He

distinguished three phases of the rite of passage--

separation, transition, and incorporation. The first phase

clearly separates sacred from secular time, positing a new

realm where, as a given, ordinary roles and modes of being

are temporarily suspended. Symbolic of this phase is

literally, or figuratively, crossing a threshold. After the

portals of the new region have been passed, persons are in a

communal state, communitas he calls it, all in the same

boat, it might be said. In this new context a territorial

passage is effected, a liminal phase, which eventuates in

changes in the actors in this personal or cultural drama.

The last phase replaces the subjects back into the secular

realm, incorporating them again into ordinary society, but

now in a new status or interaction mode. Such rites are of

two kinds; those for individuals, such as those marking life

cycle changes of birth, puberty, marriage and death, and

those for groups or whole societies passing through