Left without permit, Downtown Wichita car show appeals city decision

The Automobilia Moonlight Car Show is scheduled for July 11.
Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 12:17 AM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A car show in Downtown Wichita is challenging the City of Wichita’s decision to put the brakes on their event.

An organizer for the Automobilia Moonlight Charity Car Show scheduled for July 11 said he learned in a letter sent from the city on June 24 their permit would not be granted for the event.

On June 30, Kansas Car Shows - the non-profit that organizes Automobilia - submitted an appeal to the city.

Joshua Blick, the CEO of Kansas Car Shows, said it’s set to be heard by city council July 7, five days ahead of the event.

“Everything is so far a go except for the licensing from the City of Wichita,” said Blick.

Since the last Automobilia, organizers have been working to piece together the 26th year of the event.

“First and foremost, is being able to have the mindset with the community as this is going to be a safe environment,” he said.

Blick said since January, the focus for them has been on how to accommodate COVID-19.

“We’ve looked at everything,” said Blick. “All the way down to the food preparation.”

He went on to say, “We’ve been working with some Boeing engineers and also some Koch engineers on designing where they’re using UVC light to kill viruses.”

Another step Blick said Automobilia has taken is moving their Downtown Wichita location. They will now span nearly a dozen blocks of Douglas Avenue from St. Francis to Hydraulic to provide more room for social distancing.

“We also are taking Mead Street and Rock Island. Within our geographic area, we have almost 1.2 million square feet,” said Blick. “We can possibly hold approximately 40,000 people with our footprint if somebody is six-foot by six-foot by six-foot by six-foot. What the recommendation of the CDC, but we have really taken first and foremost our safety presence.”

During this planning process, Blick said they met with several city departments, and all seemed to be going well.

“Everything has been yes, yes, yes, go ahead,” he said.

He added, “Working with the city pretty hard for the last month because they ask you for a 30-day notice beforehand on getting all the proper procedures, all of your licensing, your permits, your insurance.”

Blick said that’s what made the letter from the City of Wichita June 24, stating they would not be granted their permit they need to move forward with the event a surprise.

The announcement was made during an untick in COVID-19 cases.

“On the 11th hour, this is the city’s manager’s decision,” said Blick.

In a statement to Eyewitness News, the City of Wichita said:

The City did not approve the Automobilia permit application citing Coronavirus public safety and transmission concerns for the estimated 20,000 people expected to attend the event, many of whom would be traveling from outside Wichita, and for the general public. In light of the risks from the pandemic, the large number of expected individuals would not be able to safely social distance.

City of Wichita

As the city evaluates requests for event permits, officials said they’re taking health and safety into consideration.

In a case-by-case basis, the City is permitting community events that can assure the safety of attendees and the community.

City of Wichita

Blick said even with the setback, he’s remaining optimistic and hopes to address concerns the city has when the appeal is heard by the city council.

“We have a great relationship for the last 26 years with the city of Wichita, they’ve been a great supporter of our event. We want to make sure that we are not only a great neighbor for the community, but we are also great stewards,” said Blick.

Part of the reason Blick said he is asking the city to reconsider the decision is because the money raised by the car show goes to support local non-profits.

With COVID-19, the charities they support - Convoy of Hope Wichita, Cars for the Cause and Wichita’s Littlest Heroes - need the funding now more than ever.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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