Sheena Richardson raised her hands, kicked and yelled along Little Patuxent Parkway on Friday evening.
Excitement took control as the 8-year-old Columbia resident watched participants march in Columbia's silver anniversary parade.
Sheena was among scores of people who lined the parkway to enjoy the parade Friday at 7 p.m. in balmy temperatures under clear skies.
The parade marked the kickoff of the town's 25th birthday festivities.
"Hi, clowns," greeted Sheena, as two colorful jokers walked by, and gave their hellos.
The parade route, which was less than a mile long, began on Sterrett Place, headed south on the parkway, turned right on Ring Road, and ended on an upper deck at The Mall in Columbia.
Cheery clowns handed out pompons and U.S. flags, a stilt walker towered overhead, antique cars tooled past, Girl Scouts and politicians waved, high school marching bands played, and two Labrador retrievers marched on all fours in red and black jerseys.
There also were floats: a large birthday present box and a "Maryland You're Beautiful" float from the governor's office, among them.
fTC A huge, white, helium-filled balloon bearing happy birthday wishes floated by.
The Rouse Co. and the Columbia Association co-sponsored the parade, which began two months of celebration for the town's 25th anniversary.
Birthday events are planned through July 4, including a triathlon and a fireworks celebration on Independence Day at the Columbia lakefront.
Friday's parade, which had something for everybody, set the tone.
Up on a hill along Little Patuxent Parkway, Jeffrey Middleton, 4, waved a U.S. flag that a clown in the parade had given him earlier. His aunt, Kathy Robinson, watched the parade-goers march by.
"This is sweet," she said.
Not far away, 27-year-old Stephanie Jackson's face lighted up at the sight of a float sponsored by Howard County General Hospital. It depicted a large white bassinet. Inside were several whining, adult "babies."
Jackson said she brought her 2-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter so they "could take part in the celebration of Columbia and to see the things in the community and what they have."
It was on June 21, 1967 that James Rouse founded Columbia. He'll cut Columbia's 25th birthday cake next month. Children under 12 will get a free slice.
The birthday was age-revealing for Lynn Schweizer, 43, of Elkridge. She attended the parade to watch her two teen-age daughters march in the Howard High School marching band.
Columbia's 25th birthday "makes me feel old because I was here before Columbia," Schweizer said.
"I can't believe it's been 25 years already. . . . I tell you, time flies."
Columbia anniversary events
Here are other events scheduled to celebrate Columbia's 25th anniversary:
* May 27: A Business Salute to James Rouse, founder of Columbia, 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at the Spear Center at 10275 Little Patuxent Parkway.
* May 30, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Wilde Lake and Village Center's 25th birthday celebration at Wilde Lake Village Green.
* May 31: Columbia Triathlon, begins at 7:30 a.m at Centennial Park. There will be a 1.5K swim, 40K bike race and 10K run. The contest also ends at Centennial Park.
* June 13: The second annual Giant Cardboard Boat Regatta, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lake Kittamaqundi.
* June 17: The opening of the Hickory Ridge Village Center, 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Cedar Lane and Free Town Road.
* June 19 to 21: Columbia City Fair, Lake Kittamaqundi. Hours for the fair Friday will be 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
* June 21: James Rouse will cut Columbia's 25th birthday cake at the Columbia Lakefront.
* June 23 to July 3: Columbia Festival of the Arts, with more than 60 activities at 12 locations throughout the county.
* July 4: Independence Day fireworks celebration. The fireworks will go off about 9:30 p.m. at the Columbia Lakefront in the Columbia Town Center, but there will be activities beginning at 1:30 p.m., including magic shows, a toddler parade and games. A $40-per-person dinner dance will be held at 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. at the Spear Center. The admission covers preferred parking, food, and entertainment by Impact, a local dance band.