Capturing time in a box

Fifty years from now, the people of La Cañada Flintridge will unearth a small steel case that will help explain their city's past.

At Memorial Park on Sunday evening, residents, local officials and members of the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce buried a time capsule as part of the chamber's centennial celebration. The capsule will contain photographs donated by lifetime honorary chamber director John Torrey, a business directory, and other clues to La Cañada life in 2012.

“In 1912, when the chamber was first born, nobody knew if it would make it to the next year,” Chamber of Commerce President Wes Seastrom told a crowd gathered after the Sunday evening Music in the Park concert.

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) and City Councilwoman Laura Olhasso were among those who stood at the edge of a hole dug into the grass between the park gazebo and the bus stop on Foothill Boulevard, helping in a ceremonial burying of the box. City officials, chamber members and a handful of children took turns dumping shovelfuls of dirt into the hole while the crowd applauded.

After wielding the shovel, 8-year-old George Kamar, who will be nearly 60 when the box is unsealed, said, “It was fun. I just wish my parents will be here when they un-bury the time capsule.”

The box is not quite ready for its final burial. Chamber officials are collecting more material to put inside before the capsule is sealed and placed in the ground for good early in 2013. Nearly a dozen businesses and organizations will choose items that symbolize their presence in the community.

Unsure of whether future technology will be able to read today's data storage devices, the chamber's Centennial Committee has opted to store the items in protective bags and “hope for the best,” Seastrom said.

Eventually, the capsule will be entombed by a large rock bearing a bronze plaque donated by Steve Toth Jr. of Altadena's Sequoia Sewer & General Engineering.

Some institutions are contributing to the capsule without placing material inside. The La Cañada Unified School District and Caltrans, which own the land beneath Memorial Park, gave the chamber permission to bury the capsule. The city's Public Works Department will construct the cement vault that will contain it.

“That's what makes this city so great. Everybody works together,” said Pat Anderson, chief executive of the chamber, who brought her 5-year-old grandson to the event. “The chamber is grateful to the city, our merchants and all of our members and residents for supporting us, encouraging us and being part of our rich history over the past 100 years — and the promise of much more to come in the next 100 years.”

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