(Photo: Paul Menta)
Key West, Florida residents are celebrating their 200th anniversary as an American territory this month with a time capsule burial right in the heart of the island. Last week, residents gathered near Mallory Square to kick off bicentennial festivities that included the filling and sealing of a new time capsule. The celebrations fell on the anniversary of U.S. Navy Lt. Matthew Perry staking an American flag into the ground claiming Key West a U.S. settlement on March 25, 1822.
Word has it there's another capsule buried on the island from 1972, but the only proof of its existence are a few local newspaper articles. Businessman and bicentennial organizer Paul Menta says no marker has been found yet, but they have hope it will be found using modern equipment meant for such a task. Meanwhile, Menta is excited local kids who participated in Key West's latest time capsule project will be able to open it up 50 years from now. Menta says, "Think of how pivotal these last couple of years are, for the kids to tell the story of the pandemic and how everybody pulled together and all the real positive things that kind of went on. It will be great when they're in their 60s and get to open it up and be like, 'hey!'"
Nancy Klingener of WLRN news in Key West interviewed time capsule expert Knute Berger about the project and how it brings residents together for a common purpose. Berger says, "There's some way about the community gathering, putting the effort into how it wants to be remembered. There's a sense of community and the continuity that provides, both with the past and with the future."