Food trucks, mobility maze to energize upcoming Tysons Placemaking Fest

A “mobility maze” has been painted in the parking lot behind The PARC at Tysons for the Tysons Community Alliance’s upcoming Placemaking Fest (maze and photo courtesy of Tech Painting Co)

The Tysons Community Alliance (TCA) hopes to put the “play” in “play-cemaking” with a mini festival on Saturday (April 6) that will feature food, art and opinions about what might make the urban center tick.

Hosted by Celebrate Fairfax at The PARC at Tysons (8508 Leesburg Pike) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the TCA Placemaking Fest is envisioned as both an example of how to distinguish Tysons and an occasion for community members to share their thoughts on future activities that could cement that identity.

The TCA will present proposed concepts at interactive stations, where attendees can give feedback while nursing an ice cream scoop from Tysons Creamery or bopping to music spun by DJ Cabezon.

“There’s going to be music, there’s going to be an interactive art piece. There’s going to be food for people and games,” TCA project manager Colleen Hawkinson, who organized the event, said. “We really want families and friends and everyone to come and really enjoy it and experience the activation and what placemaking can be.”

Feedback gathered at the event will inform a placemaking framework being developed by the TCA, a nonprofit community improvement organization tasked with promoting Tysons and guiding its evolution as Fairfax County’s aspiring downtown.

When it was created in October 2022, the TCA identified “placemaking” as a focus of its mission, along with communications, transportation and support for businesses. Acknowledging that the concept can seem intangible, Hawkinson says it can refer to anything that encourages people to interact and spend time in a particular space.

Examples range from physical design elements, such as a mural or splash pad, to events like farmers’ markets and the block parties held at The PARC, which was converted from a defunct Container Store into an event space in 2021.

“It’s about building up these places that then help support and create the sense of community,” Hawkinson said.

To showcase the concept, the TCA Placemaking Fest will have the aforementioned live music by DJ Cabezon, a “collaborative art experience” with local artist Michael Pacheco, photo booths, and food trucks from Tysons Creamery, Colonial Kettle Corn, El Chef Latino and Fine Dining to Go.

There will also be a “mobility maze” where kids can ride scooters through a mini street network with lanes, signs, sidewalks and even railroad crossings. Essentially a traffic garden with a different name, the maze was provided by Tech Painting Company and the transportation engineering firm Gorove Slade.

Admission to the event is free, though attendees are encouraged to register in advance.

The TCA anticipates finalizing its placemaking framework in May, allowing it to start implementing the recommendations as soon as this summer, according to Hawkinson.

“The TCA will certainly move forward on some things,” she said. “Some things might need assistance from the county…and there are areas where our private sector friends and partners may come in and help out, and that kind of gets around the essence of placemaking…all these different entities working toward a common goal.”

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