Two hundred years never looked so good.
Chapel Hillians celebrated the government of the Town of Chapel Hill’s 200th birthday on Wednesday with remarks from past and present public officials, cake, singing from the UNC Tarpeggios and the opening of a 25-year-old time capsule.
The town was founded in 1783, but the town government was not created until 1819 when five men were appointed commissioners by the General Assembly.
The first mayor was elected in 1869 and since then, 27 people have held the office. Current Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger started off the evening by talking about why they were having the celebration.
“Over the many years the Town government has changed to meet the needs and changing times and our growing population,” Hemminger said. “Tonight, I wanted to honor the people that have served our community whether as elected leaders or members of town staff.”
Hemminger then invited any current or former public officials to share a memory or speak about Chapel Hill in general.
Former Town Council member Pat Evans spoke about how the busing system has changed since she served from 1993-2003.
“Buses were 25 cents, and back then nobody was going to pay anything,” Evans said. “I started by working with some of the senior class presidents at UNC and it took a few years for it to filter down, but that currently has been a success.”
Deputy Town Manager Florentine Miller has been working for the town for 30 years and spoke at the celebration about her experience during that time.
“You reach a point that it’s not as hard afterwards as it is doing during that time,” Miller said. “The beauty of this community is that everybody loves the environment, loves Chapel Hill, and we make it work. I think that is one of the things that I take with me after 30 years.”
After current and former public officials spoke, Hemminger and Town Manager Maurice Jones opened a time capsule that was buried 25 years ago at the bicentennial celebration of the Town of Chapel Hill’s founding.
The time capsule contained memorabilia from Glenwood and Ephesus Road elementary schools, the newspaper from that day, a Newcomer’s Guide, photos of the town and people and a letter to the current town manager from Calvin Horton, the town manager in 1993.
The letter talked about how there are probably still crime problems, concerns about public health and unmet social needs. However, Horton wrote in the letter that he hoped “there was an increase in education, better protection of the natural environment, improvement in medical services for all people, elimination of hunger, greater appreciation for art and music and no wars.”
Everything inside the capsule will be displayed at the Chapel Hill Public Library and available for the public to view. Also at the celebration, the mayor talked about potentially replenishing the time capsule with items from the present.
Three other time capsules from 1993 have been buried in different locations throughout the town to be unearthed 25, 50 and 75 years from now.
The celebration ended with the UNC Tarpeggios singing a rendition of "Happy Birthday" and then transitioned into the meeting of the Town Council.
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