Chicago Auto Show: a hot ticket for a chilly weekend

“Apparently, we’ve got the ticket that everyone’s looking for!” said 2009 Chicago Auto Show Chairman Mark Scarpelli. “According to predictions of media experts, we were supposed to have a lackluster show that no one wanted to attend. I guess the joke’s on them as attendance for our show so far is surpassing even our own expectations—which were high.”

“While there’s no hard science behind it, our best guess is that the buzz about the show is spreading virally,” said Jerry Cizek, general manager of the show produced by the Chicago Automobile Trade Association. “We had unusually large crowds in our opening weekend. Evidently, those people are returning to their communities with reports of a fun, bright, affordable auto show that’s packed with family entertainment—and topped off with the great deals that America’s consumers are seeking.”

Dealership representatives and product specialists who answer questions for the public at the show are experiencing people who are not only looking for new cars and trucks, but also enjoying displays that range from interactive virtual game-play to celebrity appearances to the reality of test drives conducted right on the floor of the nation’s biggest auto show.

“We’re also hearing of increased activity in local dealership showrooms,” said Scarpelli. “The word is finally getting out that financing is available for customers who have been holding on the sidelines—and what better time to act than now, when the entire industry is as highly incentivized as it is now. In addition to the national rebate and financing programs, several exhibitors are offering additional ‘auto show bonus cash’ by simply singing up in the exhibitors’ display. It really doesn’t get more simple than that.”

Over the closing weekend of the show, organizers are suggesting that patrons utilize the vast—and devoid of any weather complication—Millennium Park underground parking lot. Shuttles will bring customers from there directly to the door of McCormick Place via dedicated bus routes, eliminating the thought of any long walks through inclement conditions or traffic tie-ups. The free shuttles will operate Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 21-22 only.

“The fun part for us, as the show’s producer, is to see how excited Chicago has again embraced this more-than-century-old tradition,” said Scarpelli. “We’re as excited as those coming to McCormick Place. It’s not unusual to see three or even four generations attending the show together. And what better way to spend a day with the family instead of getting your ticket punched as a ‘couch potato’ for another weekend!”

Advance ticket purchasing and full schedules for appearance and other special activities can be found on the show’s Internet Web site at www.ChicagoAutoShow.com. The show will open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., except for closing day, Feb. 22, when doors will close at 8 p.m.

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