Jungle Prada and de Narváez Park, an area of westen St. Petersburg known for its wandering peacocks and the Sacred Lands Preserve, is getting a new state historic marker this September.
To celebrate, there will be a “Jubilee in the Jungle” Sept. 25, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m., followed by comments from City Council Member Robert Blackmon, County Commissioner Charlie Justice and archaeologist Robert Austin.
Then, the Sacred Lands nonprofit and historical preserve will host an open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with tours of its ancient Native American mound and archaeological exhibit, as well as an array of food trucks and other events.
Jungle Prada Park is the believed landing site of the Spanish Conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez’ expedition in the 16th century, and is named after the historic (1920s) building just to its north. The site is also home to an ancient Tocobaga mound, which is thought to have served as a city center for the area’s early inhabitants.
Sacred Lands is a private preserve that shares the Tocobaga mound with the city’s Jungle Prada Park. Its owners have maintained the mound since the mid 20th century, when the Anderson Family, of the Anderson Lumber Company, purchased the land. Since then, the family has lived on site to preserve its numerous archaeological relics and natural environment.
Erik Anderson, whose parents built and lived in his current house, located at the foot of the mound and nestled between three ancient oaks, says he’s been an environmentalist his whole life, teaching permaculture at Sacred Lands before he ever heard the term. “Nature is in control here,” he said of his home at the historic monument.
Anderson, along with his wife Doris, created the Sacred Lands nonprofit to protect the mound, and to promote Native American and environmental education. Their son David started Discover Florida Tours, which provides informational talks and walks around the Tocobaga mound.
David Anderson says he gained immense knowledge on history and the natural environment while growing up at Sacred Lands, as well as where to find the best hiding spots among its dense shrubbery. From the site’s waterfront mangroves to its conch-shell mound, he knows it all.
Jungle Prada’s famous peacocks, which roam nearby streets but primarily live at Sacred Lands, are relics of a bygone neighbor that brought them to St. Pete decades ago.
A day at Jungle Prada Park and the Sacred Lands preserve ensures visitors will learn all about the area’s history of Tocobaga people and Spanish Conquistadors, as well as the flora and fauna that poked, protected and fed them all.
Sacred Lands hosts a myriad of events every month, including meditations and the occasional concert. During the Jubilee in the Jungle Sept. 25, the preserve will be open to the public.