Time capsule will preserve present-day Royal Oak

Fundraiser planned for July 21

By: Heidi Roman | Online Only | Published July 1, 2011

Justin Bieber was the first thought to pop into their minds.

But after some more brainstorming, teenagers at the Royal Oak Public Library came up with plenty of other ideas about things that represent Royal Oak as it is today.

A committee is collecting items to drop into a time capsule being buried outside the library Oct. 1 for the Snapshot Royal Oak 2011 project. The capsule will preserve the memory of present-day Royal Oak, and won’t be unearthed for 35 years.

“As far as I can tell, Royal Oak has never done a time capsule,” said Jay Dunstan, who sits on the committee along with Mayor Jim Ellison and other community members. “I think it’s a little bit different and it involves a lot of different groups. The city could use a thing like this right now.”

The project will also include an art contest with the theme “Royal Oak as I See It — 2011,” and winning art submissions will be buried along with the other items.

The capsule won’t be seen again until 2046, which is the 125th anniversary of the founding of Royal Oak.

“We batted around when to dig it up, and we wanted people who are involved with it now to still be around when we dig it up,” said Royal Oak Public Library Director Mary Karshner. “Thirty-five years doesn’t seem that long, but look at how things have changed in the last 35 years. Looking back in the past, that would have been 1976. Things are changing fast enough in Royal Oak that it will be a good interval.”

Ideas for the time capsule are already flowing, and the kickoff to the project will be a July 21 fundraiser at the Royal Oak home of Michael Chetcuti and Kyle Evans. Only 70 tickets will be sold to the event at Chetcuti and Evans’ unique automotive-themed home on Fourth Street.

In the meantime, the library’s teen group is coming up with most of the items to go into the capsule, and they’ll help gather them.

“The first suggestion from all of them was a Justin Bieber T-shirt or album,” said teen librarian Amy Staples. “We might include that, too, because he is a part of pop culture, but after that, we dug deeper into what really is Royal Oak. They had some great ideas.”

The capsule will include things that represent businesses in downtown Royal Oak, like menus from popular restaurants or ticket stubs from the movie theaters, but will also preserve items from organizations, schools and special events.

The city might include promotional material or T-shirts from Arts, Beats and Eats, the Woodward Dream Cruise, the Memorial Day Parade or the Oak Apple Run.

The teens want to remember the social phenomenon Facebook.com by including something to show the Facebook pages created for the city and the library. They might also throw in something to remember the movies that have been filmed in Royal Oak under the state’s tax incentives.

Royal Oak sports teams may be represented with baseball hats or jerseys, and recent issues of local newspapers and magazines could go in. Other basic items, like a map of the city and modern currency, are also being considered.

“I’m going to be looking to them to help gather some of this stuff,” Staples said. “If they belong to a sports team, they might be able to get a ball or puck or jersey.”

The Friends of the Library is the official sponsor of the project, but the expense of purchasing the time capsule and the items to go in it will be offset by the July 21 fundraiser.

Tickets are $100 per person and the event is 7-10 p.m. Cloverleaf Fine Wines and Pronto! restaurant will provide food and beverages.

“I’m hoping if we sell out that fundraiser — and I think we will since we have commitments for nearly half the tickets — we’ll be able to do the project in one fell swoop,” Dunstan said.

The fundraiser will be documented by photographer Rod Arroyo, who will create a book to represent the evening and bury it in the capsule. The book will also be available for purchase.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will pay for the capsule project, and if there are excess funds, they’ll go to the Friends of the Library.

To purchase tickets for the reception, visit the Royal Oak Public Library circulation desk, call Jay Dunstan at (248) 990-8210 or email jay@dunstan.me. Checks should be made payable to “Friends of the Royal Oak Public Library.”