TBM photo by Emily Calkins.

The Mall in Columbia, one of the most beloved institutions in the community, is celebrating its 50th birthday with a month-long series of events for the public. The focus of the activities, according to Senior General Manager Barbara Nicklas, is showcasing the Mall’s community connections and partnerships of the past 50 years.

“The Mall in Columbia started as the city’s Main Street,” Nicklas recalled. “Jim Rouse took great pride in the way the Mall was used by the community,” she added.

The Mall in Columbia is unique in terms of its relationship with the local community. It has been the focal point of the city since its creation by The Rouse Company in 1971. Developer James W. Rouse was a pioneer in urban planning and is best known for the planned city of Columbia and for his work building some of America’s first enclosed shopping malls.

Nicklas has planned events for four consecutive Saturdays in September, each with different themed activities and participating partners.

Sept. 4: Back-to-School features the Howard County Library System storytelling and music, Toby’s Dinner Theatre dance and movement workshop, the Columbia Association’s mallTalk for youth and teens, and Howard Community College information about JumpStart. The Library will be launching its mobile van with a visit to the Mall’s Outdoor Plaza where there will be activities for children. There will be a special performance at 3 p.m. by Milkshake, a Grammy-nominated original rock band for children and families.

Sept. 11: Healthy, Safe & Strong Community includes Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services, Howard County Police Department, Howard County Office of Emergency Management, Howard County General Hospital and more. The Columbia Association will be holding a Barre Class at 11 a.m. and Yoga Class at noon. Toby’s Dinner Theatre will be holding “Columbia’s Got Talent Auditions” at 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 18: Happy Birthday to The Mall in Columbia will showcase the Downtown Columbia Partnership and Columbia Association. At 10 a.m. Under Armour and Pinnacle Fitness will hold a Body Blast & Core Workout. There will be a brief anniversary ceremony starting at 2 p.m. in the Center Court with a performance by Toby’s Dinner Theatre, remarks by elected officials, a raffle of a Pandora bracelet valued at $500, and distribution of free birthday cookies.

Sept. 25: Fifty and Forward highlights Visit Howard County, Toby’s Dinner Theatre/The Young Columbians and the Columbia Association. At 7 p.m., the Columbia Festival of the Arts will present a free outdoor film screening of the 1971 version of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.

Throughout the month, the Howard County Public School System will host a Digital Art Gallery featuring work by students. In addition, the Columbia Archives, a service of the Columbia Association, will present an archival exhibit highlighting how the community has used The Mall in Columbia through the years. Both of these exhibits will be located in the Center Court, Level 2. ManneqArt will showcase the winning entries from its annual competition, “Create a Sculpture for any Human Form using Books, Magazines or Graphic Novels” in the Nordstrom Wing, Level 1.

Every celebration Saturday will feature strolling players, including jugglers, balloon twisters, stilt walkers and bubble blowers. Howard County Arts Council artists will be showcased and retailers will have activities and specials. All of the 50th Anniversary events presented by The Mall in Columbia are free of charge.