04/16/2014 08:10 am ET Updated Jun 16, 2014

Love Letters: St. Augustine

Chad Light, a writer, actor and historian, writes his ode to Florida's Historic Coast through the eyes of Ponce de Leon, the first European to discover and claim Florida for Spain more than 500 years ago. Chad, a Florida Humanities Scholar, officially portrays Ponce de Leon for the Florida Department of State, Visit Florida and the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra Visitors and Convention Bureau in national promotions. He resides in St. Augustine, Florida.

Dear Florida's Historic Coast,

From the moment I spied La Florida along the shores of Ponte Vedra in 1513 I fell in love with you and your natural beauty.

Your white sugar sands beckoned my crew and your lush green coastline called out for a name equal to your splendor. La Florida, "Land of Flowers," we called you as we claimed your land for Spain on the feast of the flowers. I love that your beaches today are as pristine as they were when we first stepped ashore 500 years ago.

Much more endearing than your landscape is the sense of community that has been cultivated these many centuries. The Spanish voyagers who followed me to settle St. Augustine brought together Spanish, Indians, Greeks and Africans to create what is today the oldest continuously-occupied city in the United States. I love that your diverse people welcome visitors to their home away from home with friendly hospitality.

Thank you St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra for bringing out my spirit of adventure. You beckon people to challenge themselves. This is no more apparent than on your world class golf courses which summon players from all over the world. Even the game's best journey to the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass to claim their own place in history at THE PLAYERS Championship each May. I love the thrill you bring to the game!

With regard I gladly share your history and romance with 7.9 million visitors each year. Like me, they fall under your spell and love you too.

Your loyal subject with affection,
Ponce de Leon