Just when the global embarrassment that was the buried Belvedere is beginning to wear off, another time capsule with an accompanying vehicle has been announced by Tulsa's Young Professionals and the Junior League of Tulsa.
The two groups revealed last week that a 2007 Harley Davidson Street Glide motorcycle, with time capsule, will be "buried" in Veterans Park on Nov. 10, to be exhumed in 50 years, as part of the state's ongoing centennial celebration.
With images still fresh in the minds of Tulsans and tourists of the rust-consumed, waterlogged Plymouth Belvedere emerging from its underground vault after months of hype and anticipation, a collective groan might go up at the thought of another 50-year-in-the-making letdown.
However, TYPros spokeswoman and event committee chair Karisha Arnett promised that things would be different this time around.
A "Tulsarama"-esque time capsule-and-vehicle burial had been in the works for months before the Great Disappointment of June 15, but the unfortunate surprise gave the TYPros/Junior League-comprised planning committee cause to second-guess their plan.
"We actually asked ourselves if we should go forward with this, but after we visited with the park commission and with the people of Tulsa, we decided to go ahead," said Arnett.
While they're still putting on the event, that doesn't mean they haven't learned from the mistakes of 1957.
Instead of burying it underground inside a potentially leakage-prone tank, the bike will be sealed in an above-ground vault filled with inert gases, with gauges on the outside so the interior can be monitored in the intervening half century, much like what was done with the Plymouth Prowler that was "buried" in 1998 at Centennial Park, near 6th and Peoria.
From a purely logistical standpoint, the choice of vehicle is also a big improvement.
The motorcycle, donated by Myers-Duren Harley Davidson general manager Johnny McClanahan, is obviously a lot smaller than the Plymouth Belvedere, so that should make for a cushier job for the unearthing committee of 2057 than what was experienced by their 2007 counterparts.
"The beauty of this is that they can just take it out and push it around if it doesn't run. They won't need a crane for this," said Arnett.
On another note, for those who might be greedily rubbing their hands together, anticipating the possibility of winning a free motorcycle in 50 years--Sorry, but this one's being donated to the City of Tulsa.
"We didn't want to have the Harley end up in some other state in 2057," explained Arnett.
What was left of the '57 Belvedere was awarded to Raymond E. Humbertson for having the most accurate guess of the 2007 population of Tulsa.
Humbertson passed away in 1979 and his closest living relatives reside in Maryland.
A career Marine, he was presumably just passing through in 1957 when he stopped over at the Tulsarama proceedings to submit his bid for the car.
His family didn't realize he'd ever even been to Tulsa until they were notified of his win.
While the fate of the Street Glide won't be determined by a contest, Arnett said its consignment to history on Nov. 10 will still include contests and other attractions from 1 to 4pm, such as a tent for kids to make their own contributions to the time capsule in the form of questionnaires asking "Where do you see yourself in 50 years?".
"Since our children and their children will be the ones unburying the time capsule in 2057, we want them to be involved in the burial and enjoy the day with their families," she said.
Until then, Arnett said they're still determining what to put into the time capsule. She said they will begin taking items from the general public in September, and drop-off dates and locations will be available soon on the Centennial Time Capsule website at www.OkTimeCapsule.com.
A few items have already been donated by the Girl Scouts, but Arnett wouldn't disclose what they are.
Also, since they don't know if vehicles in the year 2057 will still run on fossil fuels, or if they'll use corn oil, solar power, plutonium or recycled coffee grounds, Arnett said they've yet to decide on whether, or how, to include fuel and oil as was done with the Belvedere.
Along with protecting the vehicle from the ravages of time and the elements, Arnett said thievery is another concern.
Since the bike won't be locked in a (theoretically) sealed tank and buried safely under several feet of dirt, but in an open area in an aboveground vault, another issue they need to resolve by Nov. 10 is what they're going to do about five decades of security.
"We want to make sure the bike is still there in 50 years," said Arnett.
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