The Columbia 50th Birthday Celebration, a new nonprofit created to coordinate the events and programs commemorating Columbia’s golden anniversary, has received a lead gift of $50,000 from The Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC).

“This generous gift will help fund programs and other activities to mark Columbia’s golden anniversary in a way that honors its bold past, embraces the present and strives to advance the ideals of a progressive, vibrant and inclusive community,” said Managing Director Marlys East. “We hope it will inspire other business leaders to join in supporting the celebration.”

HHC is the majority landowner involved in the revitalization of Downtown Columbia that is now underway, and it is executing the Downtown Columbia Plan adopted in 2010 to guide the community’s continuing evolution. It is responsible for the acclaimed restoration and transformation of the former Rouse Company headquarters initially designed by internationally recognized architect Frank Gehry, as well as for bringing Whole Foods Market and Petit Louis to Downtown Columbia. It is a partner with Kettler in The Metropolitan Downtown Columbia and is developing the One Merriweather office building in the Merriweather District, among other revitalization efforts.

Columbia’s official birthday is June 21, 2017. Birthday activities will commence March 20 and continue until Sept. 22. The six-month celebration will include a variety of programs and events to honor the community’s history and provide inspiration for its future. Civic and business leaders have been meeting for more than a year to plan for the 50th, and a number of local organizations are scheduling their traditional and new events during the celebration. Additional groups are welcome.

Columbia Association is funding East’s position and providing office space and other in-kind services. Contributions also are being sought from other public and private sources. For more information, contact [email protected] or call 410-423-1878.