A collection of blogs and musings from the people that work at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum - Florida's Finest Lightstation.

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Easter Parade!! Keeping Our Shrimping Heritage Alive in America's Oldest Port

Posted by: Chuck Meide in Events, LAMPosts

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For the first time ever, LAMP and the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum hosted a float in the annual St. Augustine Easter Parade! Our theme was Shrimping in Our Nation's Oldest Port, and to this end we towed a wooden boat with classic lines rigged in a manner reminiscent of traditional shrimp trawlers of the 1920s and 30s, the dawn of the shrimping era in St. Augustine. Not only did we have a great time, we proved a big hit with the crowd! Join us below to see some pictures of this really fun day. You never know what LAMP and the Lighthouse will be doing to keep our maritime heritage alive in America's oldest port!

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On Easter Sunday afternoon, about two hours before the parade is scheduled to begin, we have all assembled at the starting point of the event. LAMP's vessel, a wooden-hulled Simmon's skiff provided by LAMP volunteer Captain Rob Mitchell, was rigged over the previous few days for the parade. While not a perfectly historical replica by strict archaeological standards, it is a fair representation of a historic period shrimper, certainly by parade standards.

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More and more of our parade participants are arriving and getting in costume. Here is LAMP volunteer Cristina Pope (left) and Lighthouse Director of Education Chris Kastle. They are wearing the latest in shrimp parade fashion--custom designed shrimp hats with a shrimp on a stick as the perfect accessory. Chris was one of our major organizers for the parade, and she came up with the idea of having kids and adults walking behind the shrimp trawler wearing shrimp attire.

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In America's oldest port it is totally normal to see folks hanging out with giant shrimp on their heads. Really, I mean it. On the left is Dr. Sam Turner, LAMP Director of Archaeology, and on the right is Lighthouse volunteer Andy Fleming.

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LAMP Archaeologist and Logistical Coordinator Brendan Burke practices his "parade wave." He will be driving the truck towing our boat, and is wearing a traditional Greek captain's hat, once common attire for many of St. Augustine's professional shrimpers. Brendan was also a major organizer of our float, and played an instrumental role along with Rob Mitchell in the design of the trawler. On the left is Lighthouse Director of Collections and Conservation Kathleen McCormick, who was the artist behind the giant oragami shrimp hats. In the background are some of our younger participants who would soon be walking behind the parade with their shrimps on sticks.

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Our youngest little volunteer Trevor with his shrimp on a stick.

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Riding at the bow of our shrimp boat is Sarah Miller, LAMP volunteer and Director of the Northeast Regional Center for the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN). With her are (left to right) Ellie, Trevor, and Isaac.

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Things are beginning to get exciting as we position our float in line with the others. Here we have the view from our shrimp boat looking forward at the truck (and the back side of our banner). In the truck are LAMP Director Chuck Meide (left) and LAMP Director of Archaeology Sam Turner.

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At three the parade begins! Here is the full view of our float, with the banner reading "Shrimping in the Nation's Oldest Port" suspended over the truck towing our shrimp boat.

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We yell out "Happy Easter" and wave as we pass the crowds.

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Many of them yell right back at us. Folks express appreciation for our funny shrimp hats, and yell out how much they love shrimp.

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One woman screams at us that "Shrimp are my favorite, favorite, FAVORITE thing!" Its great to see so much excitement at this aspect of our maritime heritage.

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Future astronaut and scuba diver and underwater archaeologist Isaac Turner in full shrimper garb enjoys the ride.

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Ours was not the only maritime-themed float. Here is the Fountain of Youth Park's pirate galleon wreck float. Like us they were having a great time and lots of fun. We may have had the more historically accurate depiction, given the fact that large galleons such as this one were too big to enter St. Augustine's notoriously treacherous inlet.

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As the parade slowly winds through downtown St. Augustine, our float passes the historic Castillo de San Marcos. This massive fortification was constructed in the late 17th and early 18th centuries to guard the port's access to the sea.

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As we approach the finish line you can see our shrimp boat, the Dream Weaver, from behind. Just behind the boat are the first of our shrimps bringing up the rear of our float. From the exuberance of the crowd, we are sure that folks loved our parade entry. I wouldn't be surprised if you see LAMP and the Lighthouse at next year's parade . . .

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For those of you who might be wondering if there are any other connections between Easter and St. Augustine's shrimping history, I leave you with a series of historic photographs (1946-1947) of St. Augustine's shrimp boat fleet cruising before the Castillo de San Marcos during the annual blessing of the fleet celebration. This traditional activity always took place on Palm Sunday, just before Easter. Images courtesy of the Florida Photographic Collection, State Library and Archives of Florida.

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To see some other LAMPost blog entries related to St. Augustine's shrimping industry, click here or here.

Comments (1)

Huge hit; great job.

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