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Celebrate James Rouse’s 100th Birthday

There's a series of events from April through September.

James Rouse loved to celebrate Columbia’s birthday. This year brings a special milestone as we mark what would have been the 100th birthday of the man who founded this great community.

The Life and Legacy of James Rouse, a celebration on the occasion of the centennial of his birth, begins on April 11 and is marked by a number of events, leading up to a symposium in the fall.

The commemoration begins with a few free, public celebrations: an exhibit at Columbia Art Center from April 10 through April 27, with an opening reception on April 11; a tree planting at Wilde Lake on April 25; and a big birthday party at Merriweather Post Pavilion on May 4. More events will follow in May, June, July, August and September.

“Jim Rouse had a profound influence on the built environment of the United States because of his dedication to making places for people, whether it was shopping centers, festival marketplaces, affordable housing or an entire city,” said Barbara Kellner, director of Columbia Association’s (CA) Columbia Archives. “Columbia Archives is creating this range of activities to honor Rouse’s legacy and to educate the residents of the community he created and loved.”

The art show, titled “Visions of Hope,” is a partnership between Blossoms of Hope and CA’s Columbia Art Center.

“We are truly honored to pay tribute to visionary James Rouse with an art show inspired by his quote, ‘Optimism stimulates energy, spirit, hope and action,’ ”said Liz Henzey, director of Columbia Art Center. “The response from the arts community has been overwhelmingly positive, with more than 35 artists participating in the show.”

The planting of a Blossoms of Hope Cherokee Brave dogwood tree in Rouse’s honor will take place on Friday, April 25, at 5 p.m. at Wilde Lake Park.

Rouse sowed the seeds for Columbia in the 1950s and watched the city grow from planning through its ongoing development. He passed away in 1996 in his home overlooking Wilde Lake. This tree planting will be on National Arbor Day, hosted by CA and Blossoms of Hope as part of the spring Cherrybration Days. The planting symbolizes the hopes Rouse had for a better city and his belief that Columbia would never be finished because the people of Columbia would continue to make it grow stronger and more beautiful.

The celebration of Rouse’s birthday will be on Sunday, May 4, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Merriweather Post Pavilion. There will be a musical tribute starring the talented and energetic Young Columbians and special guests, with the show presented by Toby Orenstein, founder of Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts, the Young Columbians and Toby’s Dinner Theatre. Come listen, learn and participate in activities that will honor Rouse and the city he loved. The event is family friendly, with activities for children and adults.

Other upcoming events celebrating Rouse's life and legacy will include a tour of Rouse's neighborhood as part of the Columbia WalkAlong on May 17; Columbia's 47th Birthday celebration on June 20; an exhibit at Columbia Archives, "Jim Rouse at Leisure," running in July; an exhibit at The Mall in Columbia in August; and the Columbia BikeAbout on Sept. 13.

Columbia Archives holds the James Rouse Collection, a valuable resource chronicling Rouse’s career. It is rich with correspondence, speeches, photographs and memorabilia. The collection is open to the public for research. The Archives is located in the American City Building at 10227 Wincopin Circle in Downtown Columbia. For more information, please email Columbia.Archives@ColumbiaAssociation.org or call 410-715-3103.

About Blossoms of Hope

Howard County Tourism & Promotion launched the Blossoms of Hope: The Howard County Cherry Tree Project in 2004 to beautify the county with the planting of cherry trees and to give back to the community in a meaningful way by raising cancer awareness and supporting those dealing with the disease. Overall, approximately 1,700 new trees are now blossoming across Howard County as a result of Blossoms of Hope and more than $175,000 has been contributed to the Howard Hospital Foundation earmarked for the Claudia Mayer/Tina Broccolino Cancer Resource Center. Tourism officials believe through its Blossoms of Hope initiative they can better market Howard County as a springtime destination by connecting Columbia to the District of Columbia and its famous cherry trees.

About Columbia Association

Columbia Association (CA) is a nonprofit service corporation that manages Columbia, MD, a planned community that is home to approximately 100,000 people and several thousand businesses. Additional information about CA is available at ColumbiaAssociation.org.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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