Fla. Invests In 'America's First Christmas' Site. Are Tallahassee, Leon Co. Next?

Jun 24, 2013

Tallahassee Realtor Bert Pope has been pushing local officials to upgrade the America's First Christmas site for four years.
Credit Jessica Palombo / WFSU-FM

Tallahassee and Leon County are edging closer to funding a major renovation at the site of the first American Christmas, off of Lafayette Street. The local governments are considering investing in the historic site after the Legislature set aside money this year. And it's all with the goal of making it tourist-friendly so it can be marketed to the masses.

The site of the first Christmas celebrated in North America, likely in the mid-1500s by Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto, is marked by a small sign. It has a gravel parking lot with no room for buses to turn around.

The state set aside $150,000 this year to upgrade the site. Tallahassee Realtor Bert Pope said, with potential continued funding from the state and local level, one idea is to create a new route connecting Apalachee Parkway directly to the site. "But that would have to involve acquiring additional real estate," he said.

The Leon County Sales Tax Committee had been waiting for the state funding before it would recommend for the local governments to invest a combined $500,000. If the city and county commissions approve the money, which would come from the half-penny sales tax, local residents could be voting on whether to fund the site upgrades as early as next year.