Chicago businessman planning 2nd free gas giveaway next week
CHICAGO - Cars were backed up in long lines at 10 gas stations across Chicago Thursday morning trying to claim a free tank of gas, contributing a chaotic morning commute
Willie Wilson is giving away $200,000 worth of gas in hopes of alleviating some of the pain Chicagoans are experiencing due to high fuel prices. Instead, the giveaway was causing a major headache for drivers during the morning commute.
Cars started lining up at midnight and caused congestion for several blocks around each station as other drivers were trying to commute to work and school. There were cursing drivers, occasional fender-benders and — at the Pulaski and Montrose location — at least a half-dozen patrol cars directing traffic.
Ald. Maria Hadden (49th) voiced concerns about the amount of traffic that was backed up in her ward in Rogers Park, calling it a "traffic disaster."
"Residents can’t leave to get to work. Our fire station is compromised due to the location of the gas station. EMS vehicles aren’t able to get through the streets. Students have been endangered at a local high school and police resources are spread thin. Impact > Intentions," the alderwoman tweeted.
The Chicago Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection said there is no business license or permit required to host a gas giveaway.
The giveaway, which started at 7 a.m., will last until the $200,000 is exhausted. Wilson said he expects roughly 4,000 vehicles to receive a free fill-up.
Gas stations participating in this giveaway will also be lowering their gas prices to be able to serve more vehicles. The first cars in line will get $50 worth of gas each at prices roughly 25% lower than average.
One gas station owner told FOX 32 they expect the supply of free gas to last until around 10:30 a.m. but that they will be offering reduced prices all day long.
Wilson said he hopes this will inspire others to help their neighbors.
"I’m hoping other business people, big corporations can do their part, the politicians can roll back taxes, so people can afford gas and get to work and take care of their families," Wilson said.
He is already planning another gas giveaway next week and expanding to 25 gas stations in the city and suburbs. Wilson wouldn't give a specific date for when it would occur, but told FOX 32 that he plans to spend more than $200,000 on the second go-around.
Neha Baig, one of the owners of the gas station, had a big smile on her face.
"It’s great for the community to come together and feel like they are being helped out in any way possible," Baig said. "Definitely, for us to have this exposure … it’s great to have everyone here."
Below is a list of participating gas stations:
368 E Garfield Blvd
Chicago, IL 60615
9155 S Stony Island
Chicago, IL 60617
1839 E 95th Street
Chicago, IL 60617
1345 N Pulaski
Chicago, IL 60651
9901 S Halsted St
Chicago IL 60628
2800 S Kedzie Ave
Chicago. IL 60623
7201 N Clark St
Chicago. IL 60626
4359 N Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60641
340 Sacramento Blvd
Chicago, IL 60612
43 North Homan
Chicago, IL 60624
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.