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CHICAGO (CBS) – About 2 million people are expected to hit the road for the Labor Day weekend, and in the Chicago area, they’ll be getting a big break on gas prices compared to last year, even though prices made their predictable holiday spike this week.
WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports Chicago area gas prices are down significantly from last year. AAA estimated the average price of a gallon of regular in Chicago was $3.89 as of Friday, down from $4.31 one year ago.
It is a spike of nearly 10 cents a gallon from the beginning of this week, however, when gas prices were hovering around $3.79 per gallon.
AAA estimates 34.1 million Americans will take a trip of 50 miles or more for the Labor Day weekend, up about 1.5 million from last year, and the most since the nation fell into an economic funk five years ago.
For Illinois, approximately 2 million people will hit the road for the holiday.
Even though prices are way down here, for many drivers, they’re still too high for a long road trip. Kelly Miller, of Connecticut, flew into Chicago on Friday to visit family in far south suburban St. Anne.
“I used to drive home, but now I own a pickup truck. It doesn’t get as good of gas mileage, and the prices are just ridiculous right now,” she said.
Meantime, thousands of Harley riders will be heading through Chicago to Milwaukee this weekend for Harley-Davidson’s 110th anniversary celebration, including Joe Sanders.
“They’re just an American icon, and I think everybody just thinks that you’re part of a large group when you own one,” he said.
Fifty-one-year-old Russell Smith, of Kalamazoo, Mich., explained his love of Harleys.
“American-made motorcycle; I wanted one since I was a kid, and I’ve been riding since I was 18,” he said.
Harleys might be known for their power and unique sound, but Smith’s hog was built for comfort.
“Mine’s got a 400-watt, 8-speaker sound system in it, with an 8 gig iPod in the saddlebag; cruise control; rides like a recliner,” he said. “It’s like a Cadillac, it’s hard to stay awake. … I put my feet up on the pegs, lean back, it’s like being in a recliner.”