In 2061 the Henricoans of the future will be scheduled to pry open the door of a former telephone closet in the county’s administration building. There they’ll behold the Henrico of Olden Times.
Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Que. The Westland cactus. Billboards for Subway and Wendy’s. Interstate 64 and Wawa. Mattress King.
“They will see the way we are now,” says Angela Harper, deputy county manager for special services. “And we will be a curiosity, or whatever.”
The futuristic Henricoans will also find artifacts such as maps, phone books and a Kindle, which probably won’t be as cool 50 years from now.
The 2011 time capsule officially was sealed Dec. 20 to mark the end of Henrico County’s 400th anniversary celebration. But the county’s looking for ways to prolong the magic. Namely, it’s thinking about marketing itself — and specifically Short Pump — as a tourism destination.
“We’re hoping to keep up that momentum,” Harper says. Last week in its year-end report, the county’s commemoration commission recommended that Henrico explore opening another visitors’ center in the West End to draw Interstate 64 travelers to the Short Pump area. It said the county also should work with the Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau on a tourism promotion plan. The bureau operates three visitors’ centers in the region, which saw 46,700 people in fiscal year 2011.
It’s unclear if the county’s 400th celebration attracted many tourists. The year’s events, including the popular Kite Festival in March, drew a combined 42,400 people. But the county didn’t track where they came from. The Dabbs House center on Nine Mile Road has received about 2,100 people thus far in 2011, center coordinator Sam McElvey says. About 40 percent, or about 840 people, came from out of state.
Along with the time capsule and tourism plans, the legacy of the quadricentennial celebration includes an online database of notable Henricoans, starting with John Rolfe and Pocahontas. To make the list, one must have lived in Henrico, and also be dead. There are several people on the waiting list, Harper says, who will have the opportunity, “once they have passed away, to be among the elite.”
The county also has a new song, called “Echoes of Henrico”: Our song, like theirs, is progress / Let the future hear us say / We shall journey toward that future / In the same Henrico way! \