Harrington to become conquistador in New York
Longtime Punta Gorda real estate agent Lindsay Harrington will don a plumed helmet, a cloak and knee-high boots for a voyage later this month. He plans to conquer New York City.
Harrington, the longest serving member of the Royal Order of Ponce de Leon Conquistadors, will be a special guest of Jennifer Huber, public affairs director for the Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau, on a trade mission.
The bureau is one of a dozen Florida destinations that will be pitching their locales to travel and consumer journalists and bloggers at Visit Florida luncheons. They are to be held April 17-18 at the Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle in New York.
The Florida entourage also will include a professional actor who will portray famed conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon for the city of St. Augustine, Huber said.
She said she always starts her pitch about Charlotte Harbor as a destination with a vignette about Ponce de Leon, who discovered “La Florida” when he landed at St. Augustine in April 1513.
Ponce returned to Charlotte Harbor in 1521 to start the first European agricultural settlement in America.
“It didn’t go over well,” Harrington noted.
Ponce was wounded by a poisoned arrow in an attack by Calusa Indians. The explorer fled to Cuba, where he died.
“We’re very excited this is the 500th anniversary, and since the Spanish history is so rich in Charlotte Harbor, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to present that history in New York,” Huber said.
Harrington, who also is organizing a 500th anniversary celebration to be held at Laishley Park in March 2013, said he’s thrilled he’ll be sharing Charlotte Harbor history in New York.
“I’m getting a brand new outfit and I’m trying to make it as period-accurate as I can,” he said.
“I’m going more toward battle attire. I’ll carry a sword. I may pack a dagger. It all depends on what they allow me to carry on the streets of New York.”
He said he’s picked out a regal doublet jacket, but opted not to include chainmail and a breast plate. Only the well-to-do conquistadors wore such pricey armor, he said.
Harrington, a former Punta Gorda councilman who served in the state Legislature, said he became fascinated with the history of Spanish conquests after moving here in the early 1980s.
He pointed out that after discovering Florida, Spain went on to control America for nearly the next 300 years. “That’s longer than the United States has been a nation,” Harrington said.
When Ponce returned to Charlotte Harbor in 1521, he brought 200 farmers, herdsmen, carpenters and priests and one woman. That was the first European woman to set foot on American soil, Harrington said.
The pioneers also brought cattle, hogs, sheep, goats and horses. The venture failed within days, but the attraction
of Charlotte Harbor
lives on, according to Harrington.
“We have a melting pot here of people from around the world,” he pointed out. “We have just a wonderful place to live and to visit.”