From WILL - News Headlines -

Letters to the Future Part of Last Leg of Champaign 150th Celebration

The head of Champaign's 150th Anniversary Celebration said dozens of people of all ages have already sent in their writings on Champaign's past, present or future for the "Letters to the Future" project.

Project Manager LaEisha Meaderds said they are looking for letters to put in a time capsule, to be ready when the capsule is opened 50 years from now, in 2060.

"We've received several letters from just individuals throughout the community," Meaderds said. "We received a stack of letters from Next Generation School, from just a couple of weeks ago, from 7th and 8th graders. And their wit and their insight into what the future would hold are very interesting."

Meaderds said letter-writers should focus on one of three topics --- their personal family ties to Champaign, a description of life in Champaign today, or their hope or dream for Champaign's future.

Letters will be accepted until January 14th, 2011. One hundred and fifty of them will be chosen for display, and then included in the Anniversary time capsule. The capsule will be buried in March, when the year-long 150th Anniversary Celebration comes to a close.

The March wrap up to the Champaign Sesquicentennial will be more low-key than first envisioned. Meaderds said a budget crunch in city government and the generally weak economy mean the concluding celebrations will be smaller than first intended, and plans for installing a commemorative fountain in downtown Champaign have been put on hold.

But Meaderds said they have managed to adjust the 150th Anniversary Celebration to changing economic realities.

"Our planning started before the real downfall began," she explained. "And I think that we've been really, really smart to try and keep our costs as low as possible, and really just spend wisely --- but still at the same time, celebrate our city, celebrate our community and put on a good show."

The 150th Anniversary Celebration started last March with an exhibit on Champaign history, followed by a downtown music festival in July. Meaderds said a youth art competition is part of the Celebration's conclusion this coming March, in addition to the "Letters to the Future" project and the time capsule.

For more information on the Champaign 150th Anniversary Celebration, visit the project's website (www.champaign150.com) or call 217-403-8710.