BRADENTON -- The year 2055 will mark the 200th anniversary of the founding of Manatee County, and those alive at that time will get to see the reopening of a time capsule filled with artifacts from 2013.
The metal capsule, one of which was provided to all 67 Florida counties by the State of Florida Division of Library Services, was sealed Thursday before a crowd at the Manatee County Central Library.
The capsules are part of 2013's VIVA Florida 500, which celebrates the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de Leon's arrival on Florida's east coast.
Unlike many time capsules that are buried, this one will stay above ground, circulating through the county for the next 42 years, enticing those who see it at local libraries, schools, government buildings and special events to wonder what future residents will think of the life we all led in Manatee in 2013.
"We packed as much into it as we could," said Pam Gibson, director of the Florida History Room at the Manatee Public Library.
Among the items jammed into the capsule are Hernando DeSoto Historical coins, a commemorative ornament of the new Manatee Performing Arts Center, a commemorative pen from the opening of the new MCAT bus station downtown, a signed pre-opening team T-shirt from Hampton Inn & Suites, and T-shirts from Realize Bradenton and the Farmer's Market.
Somehow Ericka Dow, a supervisor with the Manatee County Public Library, Gibson and the rest of the capsule team managed to insert Village of the Arts brochures, Manatee County Library flyers, a Manatee County annual report, local social service agency pamphlets and the Nov. 14, 2013 edition of the Bradenton Herald.
The capsule also contains many photographs from 2013 life.
The library held a photo contest for the capsule and the winners were Melissa Fox, Sue Callaghan and Dianne Joseph.
Fox submitted three photos including her winner, a shot of the Gulf of Mexico interacting with wood pilings at the southern tip of Coquina Beach.
"I love to watch the way nature works with man-made objects in our county," Fox said.
The capsule also contains the winning essay in a capsule contest that focused on either a "Letter to the Future" or "Life in Manatee in 2013."
Allison Fusaro won the essay contest with her writing, which touched upon the friendliness of people in Manatee County in 2013.
Fusaro, 18, a 2013 Manatee High School graduate, is a member of the Manatee youth organization, Young Lyfe and works at Smoothie King near Manatee High.
"I have decided I will live in Manatee County for all of my life because of the warmth of the people and the place," Fusaro said after Thursday's event. "I plan to be here for the capsule opening. I guess I'll just be 60."
Speaking of age, Manatee County commissioner Larry Bustle got laughs when he told the crowd at the event that he wants a seat to be saved for him at the opening of the capsule. Given that he has already led a very full life, his appearance in 42 years will rival the deeds of some Biblical figures.
"Our goal with the capsule is to celebrate our heritage, our people and our culture," said Bustle, who was on hand along with fellow commissioners Betsy Benac, John Chappie and Michael Gallen.
Bustle also joked that it would be great if the capsule had a piece of pizza in it, one of Manatee's favorite foods.
The actual sealing of the capsule was quite interesting.
Gibson and David Breakfield, a librarian from State College of Florida, first inserted a "gel pak" to absorb moisture. Then, they inserted a package of oxygen absorbers. Next came an automotive product called Pro-Seal designed to act as an instant gasket. Kind of a red goop, it was applied to the perimeter of the capsule. The cap was then put on and protective wax put over the cap.
There was only one thing all the librarians didn't know and could only whisper about as is their way.
"We have no idea how they will get the capsule open," Dow said.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter