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Columbia’s 50th Birthday Celebration Kicked Off at The Mall

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The Mall in Columbia launched Columbia’s six-month 50th birthday celebration with great fanfare on Sunday, March 19. The opening ceremony featured brief remarks by elected officials and celebration organizers, while representatives of each of Columbia’s 10 villages participated in the pageantry celebrating this milestone anniversary for the community.
The Mistress of Ceremonies was Barb Nicklas, senior general manager of The Mall. Speakers and presenters included U.S. Congressmen Elijah Cummings and John Sarbanes, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, Howard County Council Vice Chair Calvin Ball, Howard County Council members Mary Kay Sigaty and Greg Fox, Maryland State Sen. Guy Guzzone, Maryland State Del. Vanessa Atterbeary, Columbia Association President Milton Matthews and Karen McManus, representing U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen.
The speakers cited Columbia’s many successes in the past 50 years: its public school system, natural environment, many amenities and continuing economic development, as witnessed by the revitalization of Downtown Columbia. Cummings, like the other speakers, praised Columbia for its values of openness and inclusion. In his remarks, he reminded the hundreds who had braved the cold that Columbia was the place he came to as a child to go swimming because he, as an African-American, was not welcome in the public pools in Baltimore. He received a standing ovation.
Before introducing the Young Columbians and students of the Columbia School of Theatrical Arts, who presented a rendition of “This Land Is My Land,” Sigaty praised Columbia residents for all they had given to realize founder Jim Rouse’s original expectations and vision of the city.
Entertainment for all ages continued all afternoon inside The Mall. Columbia officially opened on June 21, 1967, and has celebrated its birthday every year since. “Appreciating the Past. Imagining the Future” is the theme of the 27-week 50th birthday celebration. Community-wide events will be held weekly through Sept. 23.
For updated information and calendar of events, visit columbiamd50.com.