My initial investigative conclusion in Florida is that local merchants know little, if nothing, about their significant historic event of 1896, when the “St. Augustine Giant Octopus” washed ashore.
While popular souvenir shops are full of trinkets, teeshirts, and trivial merchandise on pirates, mermaids, and the Spanish discovery and occupation of the area, besides the total absence of anything artistic or tourist-related on the 1896 Giant Octopus, the St. Augustine shop owners were totally unaware of the incident. Some people I interviewed even told me that I was making up the story.
Meanwhile, much is made of the city’s oldest tree, a 600-plus-years-old live oak, to be found in the middle of a Howard Johnson’s parking lot. The Old Senator, as it is called, has for 600 years stood as a testament to Ponce De Leon’s discovery of La Florida in 1513.