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NY Mills celebrates 125th in style

Peter Keranen of New York Mills used some last-minute 4th of July spirit to dress up his facial hair moments before the beard contest held Sunday in Smith Park as part of the community picnic. The red, white and blue beard-painting technique paid off as two independent judges declared Keranen the winner of the 125th "Blast From the Past" beard contest. Ten men with varying styles and length participated in the contest. For his efforts, Keranen received $25 cash and bragging rights for the next 25 years.1 / 2
The New York Mills Marching Eagles make their way past the crowd in front of City Hall as they move with the parade along Centennial/84 during the 125th Anniversary Celebration parade Friday. The view is from atop the Leaf River Ag bins at the corner of Centennial and Walker.2 / 2

Kevin Cederstrom

Saturday's opening of the time capsule in Central Park did not hold any of the cafe's secret pie recipes or the bakery's apple fritters, but what it did provide was a historical glimpse at life in New York Mills 25 years ago.

Mayor Larry Hodgson removed the cover of the capsule, which held two vaults. An inventory of the vaults included official programs from the community's centennial celebration in 1984 and a program for the centennial pageant, "The Way We Were, 1884-1984." The pageant program, containing pages and pages of information, was written by June Parta, and directed by Arles Kumpula, with music director Russell Bunker, and organist Gwen Buerkle.

There was a copy of The Contact and the June 21, 1984 edition of the Herald, previewing the pageant with the headline, "Who will wear the crown?" Jackie Borchert, now Jackie Geiser, was listed as one of the candidates to wear the crown of Miss New York Mills. Jackie attended the time capsule opening with her daughter, Taylor Geiser, who interestingly enough is the current Miss Teen New York Mills.

The capsule also contained copies of the July 5, 1984 and July 12, 1984 editions of the Herald.

The mayor pulled out a large document which listed all the people who attended the centennial celebration, along with a centennial button. There was a copy of the school yearbook of 1984, centennial book, and Finnish newspaper, the American Uutiset, printed in Mills.

The capsule also contained sealed documents submitted by businesses like Co-op Services, as well as family letters and histories. The late Harold Karvonen provided a history of the airport, and there were documents placed by organizations like the NYM Garden Club, V.F.W., and NYM Lions.

Other documents the capsule contained included the City of New York Mills Examination, which were the official city records for year-end 1983. An official post office document revealed the price of a stamp in 1984 was 20 cents.

The time capsule, which was created in 1984 was created because, "it was found that much of the history of the community had been lost and the people of the community conceived the idea of a perpetual time capsule so to prevent this from happening to such a great extent in the future," the mayor read to those in attendance.

The document went on to read that the plan for the time capsule is to preserve the history available now and each 25 years open the capsule, examine, duplicate any or all of the contents, and add the history of the last 25 years and re-seal the capsule to be opened in 25 years and each 25 years thereafter. The capsule should then be opened in 2009, 2034, 2059, and 2084.

The metal box in the capsule contains materials that are primarily historical and the remaining box contains information about the 1984 centennial celebration at which an estimated 12,000 or more, most of whom were former residents, attended.

The time capsule was put together in 1984 by the Perpetual History Capsule Committee, which wrote a letter summarizing the capsule's purpose.

"New York Mills is a community with civic pride and stable community leadership, fine educational system and intelligent, progressive planning because of the fine families that are residents, present and past; therefore we strongly feel that an accurate history of the community should be preserved in trust that with the same quality existing in the future generations this will happen. The hope is that this capsule becoming at least one vehicle that will happen for this historical preservation."

New committee members sought

The city is now asking for volunteers to serve on the new time capsule committee to be responsible for contents added for the next 25 years. The committee will take one month to take suggestions for materials. The capsule will be re-sealed Aug. 3. The city is looking for a committee of about five people to take on this historic responsibility.

Call the city office at 383-2213 to sign up for the committee.