Toms River Time Capsule Opened, New One Buried

Historian J. Mark Mutter places a shovelful of dirt over the 2017 capsules. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

TOMS RIVER – A time capsule of life in 2017 was buried, and another one from 1992 was unearthed, in a tradition that looks back through the history of town.

In a ceremony hosted by the town’s public information officer, Stacy Proebstle, the artifacts from 1992 and 2017 were laid out for all to see.

Some of the artifacts from the 2017 time capsule. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

Old papers in the 1992 capsule held up remarkably well. Old photographs curled when taken out. Yearbooks and ledgers from the time ran off lists of names and departments.

The media changed as well. The capsule from 1992 had cassettes and VHS tapes. The capsule for 2017 had CDs and flash drives.

There was a reason that the capsule was buried this year. In 1767, Dover Township became its own municipality. This year is the 250th anniversary of that. In 1992, they were celebrating the town’s 225th anniversary. Dover Township officially changed its name to Toms River in 2006. So, the documents in the 1992 capsule were still all about Dover Township.

Mark Mutter, the recently retired township clerk and a township historian, said that the date of the ceremony was special as well. On Dec. 8, 1964, residents here and in Beachwood, Pine Beach, and South Toms River, voted to form the regional school district that exists today.

The population grew in those 25 years, from 76,000 to 91,000, he said.

Children from local schools helped bury the 2017 capsules. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

“It’s a happy time. It’s a sad time. Many of our friends who were with us in 1992 are no longer with us,” he said. He asked the students to imagine how young their parents were in 1992. Twenty-five years seems like a long time to children, but passes quickly for an adult.

“Life is short. We grow up. Let us do good. In this big world of ours, always think of Toms River,” he said. “There’s no place like home. Happy birthday, Toms River.”

Students from Cedar Grove Elementary School sang a song about how Toms River is the “land of history,” and listed off some of the great things about growing up here. A copy of the song was included in the capsule.

There were 75 items placed in the new capsule. The children took turns placing them in. There were so many items, that they actually needed two capsules. Then, they buried them in the courtyard area by town hall and the library.

Photo by Chris Lundy

Many of the items included in the future capsule revolved around the town’s 250th anniversary, including a copy of the town charter that was signed by residents at the festivals throughout the year. There was also Superstorm Sandy memorabilia and recent newspapers.

As for the rest of the items…maybe it would be better to let them be a surprise when they’re opened in 25 years.

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Chris Lundy is News Editor at Micromedia. He has covered Ocean County news and features in various publications since 2003. Lundy worked for Gannett with articles in The Beacon, Observer and Asbury Park Press. He's also written for the Community Connection, Patch and ShoreBeat.