Why you can’t ride Metro to the ‘Metro welcome party’ in Tysons

Michael Caplin had a vision for showing off Tysons Corner once the Silver Line opened.

Caplin, executive director of the Tysons Partnership, planned a Great Taste of Tysons Festivala kickoff event meant to showcase an urbanizing, transit-accessible Tysons in the era of the Silver Line. Caplin arranged wine and cocktail tastings, food from celebrity chefs and music for an empty space near Tysons Galleria and the Tysons Corner Metro station.

The hardest thing, however, has been picking a date.


Silver Line delays are likely to hamper the Great Taste of Tysons festival. (Photo by Matt McClain/ The Washington Post)

Caplin first scheduled the event for last December, hoping local residents and transit enthusiasts would flock to the event via the new Silver Line trains. He also hoped people who previously avoided the Tysons traffic and congestion at all cost would come to the party and give the area another chance.

“There’s great fresh food. Music going all day long,” Caplin said. “If we got a weekend like the one we just had, we had the potential for it to be a great community gathering.”

Then last July officials at the airports authority, which is overseeing construction, announced that the project’s December opening could be delayed eight weeks. In December, a new set of delays was revealed.

Caplin rescheduled his party for early in the spring. “We figured we would wait until good weather arrived and throw a Metro welcome party in April,” he said.

But the bad news releases from the airports authority kept coming, one after another. In February officials said the construction company failed to meet seven out of 12 criteria in the building contract. In March they said that hundreds of loudspeakers at the five new Silver Line stations would have to be torn out and replaced because they did not meet fire code. In April, the official managing the project said he would resign.

Caplin agreed to move the kickoff bash to the weekend of May 31 to June 1. Just to be safe.

Now the Silver Line isn’t likely to open before July.

Caplin has had it. The tables and tents have been ordered. A string of bands has agreed to play through the day and a VIP wine tasting, alongside gin and rum tastings, has been organized. Celebrity chefs Scott Drewno, Spike Mendelsohn and Jonah Kim are scheduled to attend.

The Tysons farmers market is scheduled to debut simultaneously, at 4800 West Park Drive, where a jazz trio will perform.

He’s not moving the party again.

“At some point you’ve engaged enough people that you can’t undo the amount of planning you’ve done,” Caplin said. “The dream was that people who hadn’t been to Tysons in a long time, or maybe ever, would come out to Tysons. There are a lot of people in D.C. who have never been to Tysons. The dream was to have people jump on the Silver Line and come see Tysons. So I fear we may not have as many people as I once thought.”

He said it was hard to guess how many people might attend given that they will have to drive.

“We would like to think thousands and thousands [will come]. I mean if the Metro had been running we could have easily had 8,000 people,” he said.

So the Great Taste of Tysons Festival will be May 31-June 1. Caplin emphasized that there will be plenty of available parking.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.
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Jonathan O'Connell · May 6