The invitations are out. You are invited to the kickoff of Columbia's 50th Birthday celebration. It's at the Mall. On March 19th, beginning at 11am, the community is invited to gather and enjoy the opening ceremony followed by a dayof free entertainment and fun activities.
The opening ceremony will take place "in the Outdoor Plaza in front of Maggiano’s and Seasons 52 restaurants."
This space. In May of 2013, blogger Dennis Lane wrote about the rise and fall of the L.L. Bean store at the Mall in this very location. It would be coming down and replaced by a plaza. This plaza, which I believe was dubbed a "lifestyle plaza" by the PR people at the Mall.
Dennis Lane was particularly adept at writing about local things that helped us know what had happened in the past while doling out tantalizing glimpses of what was coming in the future. But he was also extremely good at living in the present and sharing the joy of that, too: a walk in nature, a community meeting, dinner with friends, the companionship of a faithful canine friend.
It's great to appreciate the past and imagine the future. But it's vitally important to live fully in the present in such a way that we are actively bringing about the future. I guess there's a balance that is needed between the three, yes? Haven't we all sat in a meeting with someone who's inner clock says "Worship the past, decry the present, prevent the future"?
It would be equally stark to want nothing but delicious fantasies of the future with no knowledge of the past and no anchor to the present.
There may be a time, in the future, when such celebrations take place in Merriweather Park in Symphony Woods. But given our history as The New American City that rose up around the Mall as a central gathering place and a community focal point, it makes complete sense to kick off this Birthday event right there. In the present.
Mark your calendars. Bring your family. Take lots of pictures. Be prepared to have some fun.