Columbia’s 50th Year: 50,000 Daffodils Bloom, Festivities Underway

If you aren’t aware that Columbia is celebrating its 50th year, then you must be living under a rock! While the actual birthday isn’t technically until June 21, a coordinated 27-week long celebration has already begun under the direction of Columbia’s 50th Birthday Committee. An abundance of community activities supporting the theme Appreciate the Past. Imagine the Future. are designed to draw people together, much in the same manner that Jim Rouse, Columbia’s Founder, did fifty years ago.
Rouse was a visionary ahead of his time. The new town he imagined was one that would be “economically diverse, poly- cultural, multifaith, and interracial.” His eloquence for communicating those ideas launched him into the national spotlight in the 1960s and ’70s. Columbia now finds itself at the forefront of much press and media as the celebration of Colum- bia’s 50th garners attention from every corner of the country due to it recently being named the Best Small City in America by Money Magazine and the celebratory events to mark its golden year.
The festivities began in March with a special kick-off ceremony at The Mall in Columbia and a parade of posters created by artist Gail Holliday representing each of the Columbia Villages. Some 50,000 daffodils have been seen blooming throughout the villages of Columbia thanks to the bulb donation last fall by the Columbia Association in preparation for the 50th Birthday. A rainy Saturday in April saw the opening of The Chrysalis, a neon sculpture near Merriweather Post Pavilion that functions as a high-performance stage and public park pavilion, which was dedicated to the people of Columbia for their use and enjoyment for decades to come.

On Tuesday, May 9, a Founder’s Day event will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at Smith Theatre, Howard Community College, to celebrate the vision, leadership and legacy of James Rouse. Biographer Josh Olsen, author of Better Places, Better Lives: A Biography of James Rouse will serve as moderator for the morning’s activities, and Harvard Professor of Urban Planning, Ann Forsyth, the keynote speaker, will discuss “Health and Well-Being in Columbia: Early Aims and Future Potential.” Following Forsyth’s presentation, a roundtable discussion will explore the topic of “Going Forward: Today’s Answers to Creating a Better City.” The event is free and open to the public with advance registration encouraged via
June is the official 50th Birthday Month and will be highlighted by the “Architects of Air” attraction during the Columbia Lakefront Festival. From Friday, June 16-Sunday, June 18, an unusual light experience, the famed Katena Luminarium, which has thrilled audiences in Europe, will enthrall visitors with its radiant colors all within a dazzling maze of winding paths and soaring domes. It’s an experience not to be missed!
In between all of the major events, there is a calendar full of concerts, workshops, galas, hikes, walking tours, art exhibits, and more. This is your city, so be part of it and take advantage of all the opportunities that come along with celebrating Columbia’s 50th. The entire event calendar is available at
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