Vehicles were stacked single file along Higgins Road in Rosemont early Thursday — all the way to the edge of O’Hare International Airport — for the chance at up to $50 in free gas donated by businessman Willie Wilson.

John Williams of Elk Grove Village was first in line, getting to the Mobil station on the southwest corner of Higgins and River roads just before 6 a.m., when cops finally started allowing drivers to line up.

The gas started to flow at 7 a.m.

“This is the Lord’s work. This will with no doubt help me,” said Williams, who was filling up his sedan.

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An estimated 400 drivers filled their tanks over the course of the next four hours at the local Mobil, which served as the lone Northwest suburban site of 48 city and suburban gas stations participating in Wilson’s Thursday morning promotion.

Wilson, the businessman, philanthropist and former Chicago mayoral and U.S. Senate candidate, announced the giveaway of up to $50 per car and capped it at $1 million, after his initial $200,000 giveaway at 10 Chicago stations a week earlier.

“We saw the situation out here with people needing money to get to work. They needed money to get gas to get to the day care center. … I felt a little bad about the $200,000, so I said, well, we can do better,” said Wilson, talking to reporters outside a Cicero gas station Thursday morning.

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Wilson said the record high gas prices and demonstrated need from residents prompted him to increase his donation amount and extend it to the suburbs in Cook County.

“We didn’t select just the African American community. We selected all nationalities — white, Black, Asian Americans, Latino Americans — the whole nine yards,” Wilson said. “Somebody has got to set the example to try to bring Chicago together and Cook County together. … What we try to do is help everybody.”

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He said he’ll consider a third giveaway event in the next month or two if gas prices go up again.

Wilson denied that his free gas promotions have anything to do with his possible run for Chicago mayor. He said he’ll make up his mind about whether to officially run in the next two to four weeks.

“We’ll get ridiculed for doing good, for doing bad. But let them criticize me for doing good. This situation here is only about helping people,” said Wilson, who was flanked by Cicero Town President Larry Dominick and former Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin, who is running for Cook County Board president.

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Back in Rosemont, the village’s public safety department set up orange cones dedicating the far right lane to vehicles stacking on Higgins, with cars backed up as Far West as Mannheim Road by 8 a.m. About 20 police and auxiliary officers began preparing for the event at 4 a.m.

Cops wouldn’t allow drivers to begin lining up until about 6 a.m., ahead of the 7 a.m. giveaway. And once the line started to form, drivers, for their part, wouldn’t let anyone butt in line if they tried. Beyond the queuing line, traffic was otherwise free flowing on Higgins, River and other local arterials.

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Traffic jams were reported at other spots in the city and suburbs, though Chicago officials were more prepared this time, deploying police and traffic control aides, setting up a similar queuing system on local streets and handing out stickers to motorists to indicate line position.

Nicole Jackson of Arlington Heights stopped at the Rosemont gas station as she was on her way to work in Chicago and was happy for the opportunity for free fuel.

“This is awesome, and it certainly is a godsend,” Jackson said.

• Daily Herald staff photographer Brian Hill contributed to this report.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

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Vehicles were stacked single file along Higgins Road in Rosemont early Thursday — all the way to the edge of O’Hare International Airport — for the chance at up to $50 in free gas donated by businessman Willie Wilson.

John Williams of Elk Grove Village was first in line, getting to the Mobil station on the southwest corner of Higgins and River roads just before 6 a.m., when cops finally started allowing drivers to line up.

The gas started to flow at 7 a.m.

“This is the Lord’s work. This will with no doubt help me,” said Williams, who was filling up his sedan.

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An estimated 400 drivers filled their tanks over the course of the next four hours at the local Mobil, which served as the lone Northwest suburban site of 48 city and suburban gas stations participating in Wilson’s Thursday morning promotion.

Wilson, the businessman, philanthropist and former Chicago mayoral and U.S. Senate candidate, announced the giveaway of up to $50 per car and capped it at $1 million, after his initial $200,000 giveaway at 10 Chicago stations a week earlier.

“We saw the situation out here with people needing money to get to work. They needed money to get gas to get to the day care center. … I felt a little bad about the $200,000, so I said, well, we can do better,” said Wilson, talking to reporters outside a Cicero gas station Thursday morning.

READ MORE:  People are Using Their Free Time To Crochet Tiny Couches For Their Cats

        

        

        

        

        

        

        

        

        

        

        

        

        

        

        

        

        

        

        

        

        

        

        

        

 

Wilson said the record high gas prices and demonstrated need from residents prompted him to increase his donation amount and extend it to the suburbs in Cook County.

“We didn’t select just the African American community. We selected all nationalities — white, Black, Asian Americans, Latino Americans — the whole nine yards,” Wilson said. “Somebody has got to set the example to try to bring Chicago together and Cook County together. … What we try to do is help everybody.”

READ MORE:  Join the conversation: Eating Disorders Awareness Week

He said he’ll consider a third giveaway event in the next month or two if gas prices go up again.

Wilson denied that his free gas promotions have anything to do with his possible run for Chicago mayor. He said he’ll make up his mind about whether to officially run in the next two to four weeks.

“We’ll get ridiculed for doing good, for doing bad. But let them criticize me for doing good. This situation here is only about helping people,” said Wilson, who was flanked by Cicero Town President Larry Dominick and former Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin, who is running for Cook County Board president.

READ MORE:  Aurora man gets 69 years for 2017 murder

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

Back in Rosemont, the village’s public safety department set up orange cones dedicating the far right lane to vehicles stacking on Higgins, with cars backed up as Far West as Mannheim Road by 8 a.m. About 20 police and auxiliary officers began preparing for the event at 4 a.m.

Cops wouldn’t allow drivers to begin lining up until about 6 a.m., ahead of the 7 a.m. giveaway. And once the line started to form, drivers, for their part, wouldn’t let anyone butt in line if they tried. Beyond the queuing line, traffic was otherwise free flowing on Higgins, River and other local arterials.

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Traffic jams were reported at other spots in the city and suburbs, though Chicago officials were more prepared this time, deploying police and traffic control aides, setting up a similar queuing system on local streets and handing out stickers to motorists to indicate line position.

Nicole Jackson of Arlington Heights stopped at the Rosemont gas station as she was on her way to work in Chicago and was happy for the opportunity for free fuel.

“This is awesome, and it certainly is a godsend,” Jackson said.

• Daily Herald staff photographer Brian Hill contributed to this report.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

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