Just a Little Late, Time Capsule Helps Mark Maine's 200th Year of Statehood

In 2020, Maine marked its official bicentennial and was supposed to celebrate with a series of events from parades to tall ship celebrations, but the pandemic disrupted it all

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It took years longer than anyone expected, but the process of sealing a time capsule celebrating Maine’s 200th year of statehood is finally happening.

In 2020, Maine marked its official bicentennial and a series of events from parades to tall ship celebrations were planned.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant number of disruptions to what was supposed to be a year-long party.

Some events were rescheduled, some became virtual and others were cancelled altogether.

On Tuesday, at the building currently housing the Maine State Library in Augusta, one final event was held marking the conclusion of the bicentennial.

A time capsule, produced out of aerospace-grade thermoplastic in the shape and color of the yellow star in Maine’s "Dirigo" state seal, was closed in front of a small crowd of officials and people connected to Maine 200, the official name used for state-recognized bicentennial events.

"Some of those times in the last three years, I didn’t think this day would ever come," said Bill Diamond, a state senator and chairman of Maine’s bicentennial commission, recalling challenges the group faced in adapting Maine 200 to the pandemic.

"We hit so many obstacles, I’m so proud of everybody for not giving up on those," he added.

Various items representing Maine’s past and present in 2020 are going inside the capsule now and other objects are planned to be added to designated compartments in the star in 2045, 2070, and 2095.

On Tuesday, some of the 2020 objects were highlighted.

They include historic buttons from a free Black settlement in Kennebunk, one of the first towns incorporated in Maine after it became its own state, a shoulder patch worn by the first female general in the Maine Army National Guard, a flag brought to the International Space Station astronaut and Maine native, Jessica Meir and a letter from Maine Gov. Janet Mills.

In a sign of the unusual nature of the time in history that the capsule is being sealed in, one Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 test was added as well.

Abbott’s Maine facilities produced the tests and it is accompanied in the capsule by a Maine-made swab from Puritan Medical Products, facilities of which then-President Trump toured in 2020.

As part of the capsule sealing event Tuesday, Mills also swore in around a dozen "Time Capsule Keepers," people of all ages, from toddlers to senior citizens, each of whom has March 15 as their birthday.

The keepers are now tasked with ensuring items are added to the capsule as planned on subsequent statehood anniversaries.

"I hope in time, she can really look back and think 'wow, I was a part of this,'" said Kara Rollins of Jefferson, Maine, whose young daughter, Haley, is a capsule keeper.

Following Tuesday’s event, the capsule was expected to be put on display at the Maine State Library before being moved into the State Cultural Building after renovations there are completed.

Its full unsealing and reopening is planned for Maine’s 300th anniversary of statehood in 2120.

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