Opening of Centennial time capsule will add to the fun at FHSU's annual Tree Lighting Ceremony

HAYS, KS -- Fort Hays State University's annual Tree Lighting Ceremony always draws a crowd as the campus ushers in the holiday season, but this year's event will feature an additional activity that will appeal to people of all ages.

Before the holiday lights are turned on, university officials will open a time capsule that was buried 25 years ago on the university's 75th birthday. The opening of the time capsule is one of the major events to mark the university's Centennial, which will be celebrated through the year 2002.

The opening of the time capsule will begin at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 26, in the Dreiling Lobby of Sheridan Hall on the southeast corner of the Quad. The Tree Lighting Ceremony will follow about 30 minutes later just outside the lobby in front of Sheridan Hall.

Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, will open the plastic time capsule and the contents will be removed and displayed. Dr. Robert Luehrs, professor of history -- who presided at the ceremony on June 23, 1977, when the time capsule was buried -- will explain why the items were selected and what they represented at the time. President Hammond will offer some observations on what the contents of the time capsule show in terms of how some things change and some things remain the same.

Dr. James Forsythe, university historian, wrote in his 75-year history of the university that the time capsule contained a "secret sealed message" from the president at the time, Dr. Jerry Tomanek, to be read by his successor when the time capsule was opened. If it has not been damaged or disintegrated, President Hammond will read the letter.

Following the time capsule Centennial event, the public also is invited to ring in the holiday season with Tiger pride at the annual FHSU Tree Lighting Ceremony, sponsored by the Student Alumni Association.

Tree lighting festivities will feature holiday music by the Fort Hays Singers and announcement of the winning campus organization for "best decorated tree ornament," a new addition to this annual event. Winners of the children's coloring contest will also be announced. The event will culminate with the lighting of the tree by President Hammond.

Santa is expected to make a special visit to distribute children's toys donated by Wendy's. Complimentary hot chocolate and treats, also donated by Wendy's, will be served to everyone following the Tree Lighting Ceremony inside the Dreiling Lobby.

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