Pipes packed with history reveal life in Gig Harbor 25 years ago

Boats retrieved stowed-away time capsules at the Gig Harbor Lighthouse anniversary event

Staff writerApril 30, 2014 

The oars on the Porpoise weren’t always in time, but the group of middle-school-age paddlers made it out to the sandspit where the lighthouse welcomes visitors to the tiny hamlet of Gig Harbor.

Inside the lighthouse, the oarsmen retrieved more than two dozen PVC tubes full of history and ephemera from the late-1980s. The paddlers then loaded the Porpoise and returned to shore to celebrate with the city.

It was a party 25 years in the making.

John Holmaas, co-chair of the 1986 Lighthouse Committee, was on hand for the opening of the time capsules. Before the white lighthouse was at the entrance of the harbor, only a stark pole with a red light marked entry. Holmaas had wanted something more aesthetically pleasing — more Gig Harbor.

Opening the first time capsule was former mayor Don McCarty, who brought his family onstage with him.

McCarty spoke about the dedication of the lighthouse all those years ago.

Inside the city’s time capsule were documents that showed how life has changed and how it’s stayed the same. A comprehensive plan draft and pictures of a fledgling sewer plant were shown to the crowd.

That year, Marco Malich was the first-ever employee of the year for the city. He still works for the city. If the name rings a bell, his uncle Ken is on the City Council.

The capsule also had drawings for an addition to city hall — the old one. The civic center on Grandview Street hadn’t been built yet.

The lighthouse will fill up with time capsules again this summer, to be opened in 2039.

Linda McCowen, part of the committee, was at the tables that were set up for time capsule retrieval and ordering.

McCowen was excited to be on hand to see the time capsule project from 25 years ago come to fruition.

“And I’m going to be here, age 91 when it opens up again,” she said.

Time capsules are available for ordering until June 8, the day of the Maritime Gig. Then, once again, the lighthouse will store the past for a future celebration.

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