Free gas line stretches down Green Bay Road on March 24.

Rochania Thompson was already in line for two hours, and she had still not made the turn from Simpson Street onto Green Bay Road.

Her goal: the Mobil station at 1950 Green Bay, the Evanston site of Willie Wilson’s free gas giveaway.

Wilson, a successful Chicago businessman and unsuccessful political candidate, promised $1 million worth of free gas on Thursday, divided among nearly 50 gas stations in the Chicago metro area.

Each motorist who made the front of the line before the money ran out could get up to $50 in free fuel. The expectation was 400 cars per site.

When asked if she was afraid her long wait would be in vain, and just burn gas in the process, Thompson replied “I hope not.”

A similar but smaller Wilsonian fuel-fest last week ($200,000 total, 10 stations, City of Chicago only) led to gridlock and some lost tempers.

But at the Green Bay Mobil station, everything seemed to run smoothly, as things began at 7 a.m.

Orange cones set off lanes, and workers helped direct traffic and also pump the gas.

Ali Erawan was one of those who lined up.

Erawan is a delivery driver who uses his own vehicle, so to him, free fuel was “very important,” and worth more than a two-hour wait.

Line stretched over to Simpson Street.

Another motorist, who only used his first name, Kevin, said he was willing to line up “for the same reason everyone else is. Trying to save a buck.”

The Mobil station actually lowered its prices, to $4.49 per gallon of regular, so it would take longer for the free gas allottment to run out.

Expectation was 400 cars would receive $50 of free gas each.

Stanley Rankin drove up from Rogers Park, got his 50 bucks worth, then stayed to help with traffic control at the gas station, and with filling other tanks.

“This is a good thing for America,” Rankin said.

It was also good for Rochania Thompson, who did indeed make it out of Simpson, down Green Bay, and up to the pump for free fuel.

But, just in case anyone did not want to wait for two-hours plus, another gas station right across the street was selling regular for $4.79.

One lonely car was there.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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