It’s not every day that a time capsule is placed, and Mount Airy made the most of such an occasion during a downtown ceremony.
About 80 people crammed into the Canteen Alley mini-park on North Main Street Tuesday night for a program accompanying the sealing of a time capsule prepared by local Cub Scout Pack 538.
The pack includes Webelos members, those around the fourth- and fifth-grade level, who are preparing to become Boy Scouts. They embraced the time capsule project in seeking to earn an adventure pin for some effort reflecting the history-minded theme of “looking back and looking forward.”
City government officials granted permission in December for the capsule to be placed in Canteen Alley, a recently refurbished site known for its colorful Coke mural dominating one wall.
As a result of that decision, the mini-park now boasts another prominent fixture: a monument-like container made of granite in which the capsule was placed.
The monument portion weighs close to a ton (2,000 pounds), said Jessica Bolick Cockerham, a den volunteer and mother of a Webelos scout Jason Cockerham. She played a key role in bringing the project to fruition, including lobbying city officials to approve its placement on municipal property.
Meanwhile, the capsule itself is “super light,” according to Cockerham, which the boys were easily able to place inside the granite enclosure. “All of the scouts put their handprints on the outside of the time capsule,” she said.
The purpose of such an endeavor is educational in nature, with the capsule containing objects or information basically intended to allow people in a future generation to gain an idea of what life was like at an earlier time.
Among the long list of items placed in the Cub Scouts’ capsule were a letter written by Mayor David Rowe which includes his observations on Mount Airy, and materials from other city officials; items relating to scouting; a piece of polished granite; a copy of The Mount Airy News; information on local businesses that sponsored the time capsule project along with various products made here; and more.
“Some of the scouts put family pictures in there,” Cockerham said.
The sealed capsule is scheduled to be opened in 2048, 30 years from now, which she said was timed in order to be within the lifetime of the scouts.
Assistant Scoutmaster Josh Martin of Boy Scout Troop 538, which the Cub Scouts involved in the project become members of, said when that day comes the boys can look back with a unique perspective. They likely will have become family men and productive members of the community, Martin indicated.
Martin was one of several speakers who addressed the crowd, also including Mayor Rowe, now 74, who while praising the project lamented his own experiences as a 14-year-old Boy Scout.
“I dropped out of scouting way too soon,” the mayor told the crowd. “Cars, girls, football, basketball (and) other things got in the way.”
Tuesday’s night ceremony also was attended by two Mount Airy commissioners, the city manager, the police and fire chiefs, Surry County Emergency Services Director John Shelton and others.
In addition, the City of Mount Airy Color Guard was part of the program, as was Elizabeth Martin, who sang the national anthem.
A bluegrass group, The Sugarloaf Mountain Band, performed from a stage in Canteen Alley as the crowd filed into the tight space and sat in chairs set up for the occasion or stood nearby.
Unwelcome guests were strong gusts that blew through the alleyway during the ceremony and created a wind-tunnel effect.
The time capsule in Canteen Alley joined others previously located in the downtown area, including a 50-year one placed at the Mount Airy War Memorial when it was erected in 1985.
Also, a time capsule was embedded in a cornerstone of the city post office when constructed in the early 1930s.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.