Gilroy’s 150th anniversary celebration never came to be as planned, despite being months in the making. It was, as organizers describe it, “the best darn party that Gilroy never saw.”
But, a year-and-a-half later on Sept. 13, it got a small send-off during the Gilroy City Council’s first in-person meeting since the actual date of the sesquicentennial.
Gilroy’s Sesquicentennial Committee unveiled a time capsule filled with items that represent 2020 in Gilroy, marking 150 years since it was incorporated as a city on March 12, 1870. The capsule includes a street banner, copies of the 2040 General Plan and county shelter-in-place order, photos of the city council and local newspapers, among other items.
It is scheduled to be opened for Gilroy’s bicentennial, giving 2070 Gilroyans a snapshot of 2020 Gilroy.
Gilroy artist Carol Peters, a retired Gilroy High School art teacher and the creator of the winning sesquicentennial logo design, painted the capsule that was built by Louis Hack.
“When asked to design and paint the time capsule, I did a lot of reflection on what to ‘say visually’ to give the residents in 2070 a feel of what Gilroy was like in 2020,” Peters wrote in her artist’s statement. “Images of what was important to our current residents, the image of Gilroy to outsiders and the heart of who we are. I am 77 years old and have lived in Gilroy my entire life so I have absorbed, experienced and been an integral part of Gilroy’s history.”
Each side of the capsule features iconic people and places from Gilroy’s history, including Old City Hall, cowboy Casey Tibbs and his horse Warpaint, two of the Gilroy Garlic Festival’s founders, Don Christopher and Val Filice, and more.
The capsule will be on display at City Hall.
“This beautiful piece of art will be on display for the community to enjoy and for future generations to explore,” said Committee Chair Amanda Rudeen.
Rudeen thanked the committee for its work, which included city and school district officials, business representatives and other community members.
The celebration certainly didn’t go as planned, Rudeen noted. Two events that were scheduled in mid-March 2020 had to be canceled on short notice, as the Covid-19 pandemic was just beginning and the county had released its first shelter-in-place order.
“With the benefit of hindsight, it was certainly the right decision,” she said.
Rudeen said she is hopeful that a chili cook-off event between Gilroy’s police and fire departments can see the light of day in the near future, as the groundwork has already been laid.
Mayor Marie Blankley thanked the committee for its work.
“It’s lovely,” she said of the capsule. “Thank you all for doing this in memory of the 150th anniversary.”
Councilmember Rebeca Armendariz thanked the committee as well, but said she was concerned about the capsule artwork’s “lack of diversity.”
“It seems like the committee had a good amount of members in it and you guys worked really hard,” she said. “But, what Gilroy looks like isn’t reflected there, and all the folks who also contributed to our beautiful town.”