Doors Open or closed?
The Doors Open event this weekend was a fabulous array of the diverse culture, history and spiritual sites that Richmond has to offer.
As a longtime Richmond resident, it made me proud to show guests what is in my own backyard.
However, I was a little disconcerted when I visited one site, “Grandpa’s Old Cars,” as part of Doors Open. I expected that one could freely enter to see the cars, and other memorabilia. Not only did I have to spend gas, time and energy, but I had to give up visiting other sites I would have liked to have seen. When I arrived, I was told at the door that a mandatory donation of $10 per head was required to see anything inside the building. As far as I was concerned a donation should be voluntary, not mandatory. This equates to an admission fee, and when I tried to explain that the site was listed as number 33 on the Doors Open program with a big placard at the front entrance, and it should have been a free public event, I was told this was a mistake on The Richmond Review’s part, and that it was a “private function.”
Furthermore, it was listed as being handicapped accessible, but a large white sign prohibiting walkers and wheelchairs was displayed at the front.
I am not handicapped, but I could imagine it may have posed a problem for people who had made a concerted effort to get down to Gilbert road to see the cars.
In any event, I did not pay the required admission fee, and instead set my compass to visit other cultural sites, that the doors were truly open. I think in the future, Grandpa’s Old Cars should be excluded from Doors Open events unless the doors are open freely to the public.
Isn’t that the whole mission of the event?
Editor’s Note: Grandpa’s Old Cars did charge a fee to visitors at Doors Open, according to Jim Ratsoy, who owns the cars. Ratsoy said the fee was a minimum $10 donation, which went to Rosewood Manor, a non-profit residential care home for seniors. Doors Open is run by the City of Richmond, which bills it as a free event. The Richmond Review sponsors Doors Open, but did not produce the brochure listing the participating sites.