On Thursday August 13, as the afternoon sun beat down on the crowds gathered in Plaza de Luna at Palafox Pier, Pensacola, Mayor Mike Wiggins unveiled a life-size bronze statue of Spanish explorer Don Tristan de Luna.
Judy Bense, president of the University of West Florida, began the dedication ceremony with a dramatic telling of Luna’s explorations and his part in Pensacola’s storm-battered beginning as a Spanish colony in 1559.
“The worst thing for these expeditions was to run out of food,” said Bense. “Just five weeks after de Luna landed with his ships in Pensacola Bay, a hurricane hit, sinking ships and destroying their food supply.”What started as a grand mission of settlement would become a rescue mission, she said.“De Luna left in defeat, but today, 450 years later, Pensacola still stands,” Bense said. “His statue is a monument to Spanish perseverance, heart and struggle.”
The 6-foot 2-inch statue, created by Pensacola sculptor Bob Rasmussen, portrays the conquistador standing upright, holding the Spanish flag. It was formally accepted by Wiggins in Saturday’s 30-minute dedication ceremony.
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