Philadelphia Auto Show returns to the Pennsylvania Convention Center

Organizers say they're determined to bring an estimated 200,000 visitors to the city over the next nine days.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Philadelphia Auto Show's return to the Pennsylvania Convention Center brought a big crowd with it.

A lot of the car lovers were at their first event since the city lifted its COVID-19 mask mandate last week.

"You can get around. You see people with no masks. Everyone's enjoying it," said Debra Brooks from Sicklerville, New Jersey.

Last year's show was canceled because of COVID-19, so organizers were determined to hold the event in 2022 and bring an estimated 200,000 visitors to the city over the next nine days.

"Not only is it the show, but it's also the experience of coming downtown, going to a restaurant, visiting the Reading Terminal Market, all of that is part of what the auto show. People can do it all now," said Mike Gempp, the show's director.

Gempp says one of the challenges has been adapting to changing pandemic rules. But when the city gave the all-clear, the staff was thrilled.

"Being mask-free and being back to a good level of normalcy, everything hit at the right time," he said.

While masks aren't mandatory, there are still other COVID-19 precautions at the convention center.

That included a new HVAC system for the building and plenty of hand sanitizer stations on the floors.

"All of the restrooms have been renovated. Even the escalators have UV protection on them, so when they go back under, they get cleaned by a UV light," said Gempp.

From viewing electric cars to sitting in a NASCAR race car, guests say they were excited to see what's new on the market.

"The newest and the latest models that are out there. We always like to look at them and sit in them and feel how comfortable they are and the prices of them," said Robert Echevarria from Vineland, New Jersey.

It's also the chance to experience a taste of what the city was like before the pandemic.

"Everything's normal. No masks. You feel like life's easy again," said Melanie Lonasco from Turnersville, New Jersey.

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