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Former Concord officer planning city’s 250th anniversary celebration

In 1965, Jim Milliken was a young police officer on duty when the city buried a time capsule during its 200th anniversary celebration.

He knows what’s inside, he said.

But he won’t spill the secret before the time capsule is opened in 2015 to mark the city’s 250th anniversary.

“I don’t want to spoil it,” Milliken said. “Let’s wait and see.”

That time capsule will be unearthed this summer to mark the beginning of the city’s anniversary year, and it will be on display locally until it is opened July 7, 2015 – exactly 250 years after Concord signed its original charter.

In the meantime, Milliken is the senior vice president of Concord 250, the group planning a yearlong birthday celebration for the city.

“I’m hoping (the 250th anniversary) will be an opportunity for us to be together, not over the telephone, not over cell phone, not over the computer, but together having fun,” Milliken said. “That’s how communities grow. That’s how they understand each other, eyeball to eyeball.”

A public forum tomorrow night will offer a chance for residents to get together “eyeball to eyeball” and collect ideas for the celebration. Concord 250 President Brent Todd said the organization hopes to be a magnet for suggestions solicited at public forums like this one.

“We’re really a convening body, the Concord 250, that will help do its best to facilitate events that are going on within the city,” Todd said.

A simple gift from a friend inspired Todd, who also represents Ward 1 on the city council, to get involved with planning the upcoming anniversary year. A neighbor gave his family a trivet with a picture of a Concord Coach on it, he said, that had been a souvenir from the city’s bicentennial in 1965.

That got him thinking about Concord’s history – and its next historic anniversary.

“We will certainly want to think about the history of the city in its entirety,” Todd said. “We want to think back to where we came from, the roots of the community and how far we’ve come, and also think forward to where we will go from here, what the city of Concord will look like in 50 years.”

The first public forum in November produced a long list of ideas – including a Concord trivia night, a community art project and living history re-enactments – of how to celebrate the city’s history. Todd said he hopes to solicit even more ideas at tomorrow’s meeting, and hone in on the suggestions that have already been made.

“Last time, we had wonderful representation by all sorts of groups in the Concord community,” Todd said. “We’re expecting to have that again and see if they have any ideas on what their organizations would like to do.”

Jessica Fogg, marketing director for Concord 250, said the goal is to engage many community members and organizations. “This is a community event, so we’re really seeking community input and participation,” Fogg said.

The Concord 250 committee hopes to draw residents and organizations from across the city into its plans – everyone from the schools to the fire and police departments to the churches, Fogg said.

“It’s a big 250 years,” she said. “We want to celebrate all of it.”

And the committee doesn’t want to miss any ideas on how to do that.

“That’s why coming on Wednesday night (is important) for people in the community, to share what they would like to see happen in 2015 to celebrate,” Milliken said. “We ought to take time to acknowledge the past 250 years and the growth of Concord.”

As Concord literally unearths its time capsule and its past, Todd said it will also have the chance to shape how the city is remembered in the future – the committee is planning to bury another time capsule to be opened in 50 more years.

“What’s going to be really fascinating and interesting is both seeing what folks decided back in 1965 to put into this time capsule, and then what are we going to assemble and put together that will be opened in 2065,” Todd said.

The public meeting will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. tomorrow in council chambers between the police station and city hall on Green Street.

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

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