Weslaco celebrates 99th birthday by opening time capsule

WESLACO — Brent Barbee, 37, made a trip from his home in Maryland to read a letter he wrote 24 years ago while a student at Central Middle School.

Barbee’s letter was one of dozens placed inside a 24-year-old time capsule buried near the public library in 1994. This month, public works crews exhumed the concrete box in preparation for the city’s 100th birthday December 2019

“A pistol shot pierced the air at 10 o’clock on the morning of Monday, December 10, 1919, and the city of Weslaco was officially born,” said Commissioner Letty Lopez, referencing a history book prepared for the city’s 50th anniversary.

Jose Luis Perez holds an envelope removed from the 24-year-old time capsule on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018, in Weslaco. (Cristina M. Garcia | cgarcia@themonitor.com)

Lopez was joined by community members who removed sealed envelopes from the time capsule Monday morning. Its contents will be displayed at the Weslaco Museum of Local History and Cultural Art beginning in January.

The event, hosted by the city commission-appointed Weslaco Centennial Committee, marks the start of a year-long celebration.

“This reveal is a bit early, but we wanted Weslaco citizens to have time to view the items in the box during this special year,” Lopez said.

Jose Luis Perez, who now lives in Edinburg, attend the event and held the envelope he had placed inside the capsule 24 years ago. In it, he said, is a letter written to his daughter and photographs.

“Gosh, 25 years have gone by just real fast,” he said. “We’re very excited to see the items we put in there.”

The letters, newspapers, VHS tapes and other items will be removed from the envelopes by museum employees this week in preparation for the exhibit in January. The museum will then consolidate the larger exhibit into a smaller one, which will be displayed until December 2019.

The memorabilia from 1994 will then be buried in another time capsule along with current items.

“It’s going to kind of turn into a Weslaco through-the-ages time capsule, that way, the next time it’s opened — be it 25 years or 50 years from now — it’ll be all these wonderful anniversaries where we’ve come to celebrate the city,” said the museum’s executive director Sara Walker.

The museum is open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. from Tuesday through Saturday.