BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Thousands gathered at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex for the 50th World of Wheels.
Like many events in the last year, COVID-19 safety protocols like mask-wearing, social distancing and constant sanitation were required throughout the event.
Businesses and restaurants in Uptown, right by the BJCC, were excited about the huge amount of foot traffic and potential amount of dollars
“It’s huge,” Zebbie Carney, owner of Eugene’s Hot Chicken, said.
Eugene’s Hot Chicken is close to the BJCC. Carney says the past few days they have had a steady amount of traffic because of World of Wheels and the roads opening up by their restaurant.
“And I think it’s going to be busy tonight as well. And yesterday was really steady,” Carney said.
He says 2020 was a tough year for them financially, but they were able to stay afloat.
“For a small business, people just say wait it out. But for a small business, it’s kind of hard to just wait it out. So, it’s great to see events happening,” Carney said.
Hotels were also enjoying the business. Both the Sheraton Hotel and Westin say they had a lot of people from the event stay with them. Westin employees say they were nearly at 100% capacity this weekend.
But car enthusiast’s definitely had the most fun. Paxton Hanson, from Sardis, Alabama, says he, his brother, and grandfather drove an hour away to see the hottest rides out there.
“There is a lot of cool cars,” Hanson said.
Though there were COVID-19 requirements, Hanson says it’s still good to see World of Wheels continue through the pandemic.
“It’s just a lot of fun. I don’t even think about it,” Hanson said.
Restaurants like Southern Star, Mugshots and other parts of Uptown were busy throughout Saturday with the foot traffic. Carney hopes events like World of Wheels can jumpstart a form of normalcy soon.
“Having events like this will get us back to some type of normalcy. Just any event to help out, but this has been huge. Just to see people out and walking around has been amazing for us,” Carney said.
World of Wheels continues on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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